What matters most to God, our methods or our motives? Peter the Apostle challenges pastors to examine their ministry motives in 1 Peter 5:2-6. As we explore three good ministry motives from this text, I must warn you that Peter’s questions are not easy, nor should they be taken lightly.
1. Am I motivated more by GRACE or GUILT?
…not overseeing out of compulsion, but freely, according to God’s will (v. 2a).
Obviously, we want our people to give and serve with good attitudes. Can we assume that they are taking their cues from us, whether good or bad? In other words, does the attitude in the pew reflect the attitude in the pulpit? If we personally serve out of a sense of grace, then we are much less likely to book our church members (or ourselves) on a guilt-trip.
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).
2. Am I motivated more by EAGERNESS or SELFISHNESS?
…not for the money but eagerly (v. 2b).
A healthy pastor serves others because he wants to help them, not himself.
Nothing kills morale in a church more than a pastor or leader whose calling is merely a means of income or an opportunity for future advancement. I think it is safe to say that ministry is not the most lucrative career track out there, but there are certainly exceptions, so it is a fair question.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men (Col 3:23).
3. Am I motivated more by HUMILITY or PRIDE?
…not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you (vv. 3-6).
I hesitate to say that pride is a common ministry motivation, but frankly – it is. Even Jesus’ first recruits were caught “arguing with one another about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:34). There is nothing wrong with enjoying a season of growth in your ministry, just don’t become confused about who “causes the increase.”
The original Greek term (verb) for “humility” is a picture of someone making themselves small (close to the ground). The English word for “humility” comes from a Latin word that also means “ground.”
Is it fair to say that some pastors seem to be more “grounded” than others? Strutting pastors are an embarrassment to the church and an offense to our ultimate Shepherd. The body language of someone standing (lording) over a person with less status exposes the condition of his or her soul.
Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way (1 Peter 5:3 MSG)
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
If you read my article last week about “Bad Ministry Motives,” you know that these good motives parallel them. The implications for each attitude are basically the other side of the motivation coin.
IMPLICATIONS FOR GOOD MOTIVES
God will give you favor
In the same way, you young men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Satan will flee from you
Submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
People will respect you
Peter changed quite a bit from the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Remember how he reluctantly had his feet washed 30 years before he wrote this Epistle? Jesus passed onto Peter and the other Apostles both an example and an expectation of humble leadership (John 13).
So let’s go there. Are you serving more out of grace or guilt? Eagerness or selfishness? Humility or pride? What is God teaching you about your own motives for ministry? It is never too late to make an attitude adjustment, which will bless the Lord, His Church and you – His undershepherd.