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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

08 Sep '12

Understanding what truly motivates us in ministry

For those of us who lead others in ministry, understanding what motivates us and drives us is a complicated but important question. There are many possible answers to even ministry motivation. They can include joining God in His work, our own ego, recognition, the applause of others, fulfilling someone else's motivations, personal ambition, or just wanting to be successful. On any given day or period in our lives, the answer could be different. 

Every leader is building something. That is the nature of leadership. Who we are building for is a far trickier question. Here is the issue that should give us pause. The pull of our lower nature is strong and when we are not highly sensitive both to the call of God on our lives and are not intentionally staying in close fellowship with Him, our inner motivations gravitate toward us and our own fulfillment rather than keeping Him and His call preeminent in our leadership. In other words, it is very easy for us to be meeting our own needs in our Spiritual leadership rather than leading on His behalf. It is a subtle but massive shift in motivation.

Why does it matter? Because we lead people toward the individual we lead for. If we are truly motivated by God's call and mission we will lead people on behalf of and toward Him! If we are actually motivated by our own ambition and a personal mission we will lead people on behalf of and toward us. Thus the motivations of our hearts have very real consequences for those who we lead. It is a subtle but it is real!

How do we know what really motivates us? It takes a great deal of introspection, thought, personal evaluation and being aware of our own drives and needs as they intersect with God's call on our lives. Ultimately the closer we stay to Jesus, the more sensitive we will be to Him. When we become distracted from Jesus (even by ministry) we become less sensitive to His call and are easily diverted by our own "shadow mission." It is possible to start our leadership with high sensitivity to leading on His behalf but over time to allow it to become about us rather than Him. 

Never take your motivations for granted. We are all building something and motivated by something. Knowing who we are actually building for and whose motivations we are fulfilling is vitally important. We don't want to get to the end and realize we were chasing the wrong thing. Our hearts are deceitful and we are easily deceived unless we are constantly being transformed by Jesus.