God’s Glory in Faithful Balance: The Similar Snares of Gospel Ministry

I was reading through a book by Voddie Baucham the other day preparing for a class I am teaching at church on Gospel Centered Families.

This book titled Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homescaused me to pause and reflect on one central point he made in a subsection discussing the differences between covenant and contract. Baucham went into a very convicting observation in modern culture and our tendencies as men to identify ourselves with our profession instead of our families and faith. It is very common to glance by this part and say well, I am good, I think I am a biblical complimentarian who lovingly leads his wife as a servant shepherd, but I would be foolish and proud to stop there.

The more I thought about that theme, I was brought back to words of wisdom from Dr. Randy Stinson who advised the men in his Leadership in Family Ministry course to keep family and church in the higher priority or you run the risk of graduating from seminary biblically unqualified to enter Christian ministry. Ouch. It hurts because it is true. Why do we fall prey to this identity crisis that the world imposes on our true identities in Christ? Even as a new pastor, how can we be so foolish to think that we are immune to this as well? Some have to fight doubly hard against this because they, like the author, are bi-vocational which means they work outside the church as well.

It made me think of a thought which I hope to flesh out a bit in one of my later journal entries as I turn to the Pastoral Epistles and Jesus’ words to his disciples. What does God glorifying balance look like? What does Scripture have to say about it? Why do ministers have so much risk of this same trap that corporate America and materialism and power complexes impose on us regular folk?

From what I can tell the reason pastor’s fall into this trap is because there is a pervasive culture of success driven ministry, in the broad church culture where more and bigger is better and even in seminary where we are taught and exposed to some of the biggest and brightest in Christendom. You see pastors aren’t that different after all.

I praise God that I have learned under Godly men who have published great books. I thank God that I have learned in Chapel from men who have bestsellers and frequently sellout conferences. But the hidden danger in this is we, as fallen men, begin to measure ourselves against these men, and not again the standard of Scripture, so we try to climb the same ladder that I have no further desire to climb in the corporate sector but convince ourselves it is for God’s glory and not ours.

Can we be honest here? We all know there is a bit of selfish pride spiking every time we dream about what it would be like to be respected and published like D.A. Carson or preach like Piper or blog like Tim Challies. I pray as God works in me to keep in proper balance my calling in respect to my calling as Husband and Father and any desire for success to see Christ’s name glorified.

Those of us in gospel ministry were never promised success, by any human measurement. We were promised persecution, tests, trials and hardships. No passage promises a book deal, a mega-church or, even one profession and baptism, but what is does promise is eternal reward for those who remain faithful to the end.

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