(I use the word “ministry” in this post tongue in cheek.)
It seems that some leaders and Christians have appointed themselves to unhealthy “ministries.” These are “ministries” that stifle the gospel, oppose growth in grace, quench the moving of the Holy Spirit, and kill the body life of a healthy local church. These are “blinding” qualities—those born in arrogance that cause me to be blind to my own weaknesses and lifted up as the judge of others.
As a spiritual leader or Christian—here are five “ministries” I desperately want to avoid:
The Ministry of Anxiety—Causing those around you to live in anxiety of pleasing you, fitting your standard, or adhering to your expectations or preferences. Lording leaders tend to do this. If your presence incites anxiety in others, something is wrong. Don’t Lord—lead. Lead by example, and love the ones who follow AND the one’s who don’t!
1 Peter 5:3 “3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
The Ministry of Fear—Causing those around you to fear your rejection or response if they don’t please you or agree with you. Fear of man is a snare. The desire to be feared is also a snare. If your presence incites fear in others, something’s wrong. Only God is deserving of fear—let’s leave it with Him. Sheep shouldn’t fear the shepherd—they should be accepted, cared for, and comforted by him.
Proverbs 29:25 “25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
The Ministry of Cynicism—Causing those around you to experience continual suspicion of their heart. (eg: “They must have skipped church..” rather than, “I hope everything is ok…”) Cynicism is the tendency to believe that others are solely motivated by self-interest. For the record—biblical love is not cynical. If your spirit towards others is cynical—something is wrong. Wise people RUN from cynical hearts. Cynicism is contagious.
1 Corinthians 13:7 “Charity… Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
The Ministry of Judgmentalism—Causing those around you to filter through your personal standard of acceptability. “Who are thou that judgest another man’s servant?” (Rom. 14:4) A judgmental mind lifts itself up as “judge” (Again, God’s position, not ours) and then forces it’s opinion or preference upon everyone else as though it were absolute. If your spirit is judgmental, you are wasting your life. You have assumed God’s office and left yours vacant. God calls you to show mercy (See James 2). There is no local church office of “judge” in the New Testament.
Romans 14:4 “4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”
The Ministry of Elitism—Causing those around you to feel “less than you” somehow. This can be done through the use of wealth, the use of political connection (within the church), the use of office, or the use of personal standards. It’s an attitude that “I’m better than you…” for any reason whatsoever. Israel had this problem. Christians have this problem. Let’s get it straight—JESUS is great. No one else. All the rest of us are pretty much just messed up, and only God’s grace makes any difference.
James 2:1 “1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
Christian—stay in the ministry of grace and mercy. Engage with your church family in the ministry of grace and mercy. And when these unhealthy “ministries” rear their ugly heads—prepare for local church life to become in-focused, arrogant, and very unhealthy.
(At EBC, we have been studying James verse by verse, and asking God to make us a healthy church. I have been amazed and refreshed by James chapter two! It’s all about the assembly, and how to avoid elitism, politics, judgmentalism, and hypocrisy in the body. The study has helped me and our church family hit the reset button on the five areas listed above.)
You can listen to the recent James studies here:
When a Church Becomes Hypocritical—this Wednesday!