One of the things we have to guard against as spiritual leaders is letting our relationship with God become a job that we have to do, rather than a relationship that we want to nurture. For everyone in ministry — from lead pastors to lay leaders — the lines between “job” and “relationship” can quickly become blurry. It’s easy to just keep doing what is expected of you without realizing that you are becoming cold in heart.
Honestly, this has happened to me many times throughout my 25 years of church leadership. There have been some Sundays (and Saturdays and Wednesdays) that I find myself participating on the outside — nodding along to the message and raising my hands in worship — but on the inside I am as disconnected as I can be. I am going through the motions, but my heart isn’t in it. I find myself distracted and restless, and maybe even a little discouraged. But I plow on, because, well, serving God is my job! When that thought enters my head, I know it’s time to do some soul searching.
Personally, I know I am getting close to the “God is my job” mindset, when:
- I find myself mindlessly going through the motions during service, but my mind is in a different place (making my to do list, planning my calendar, reading twitter on the front row when I’m supposed to be following along in YouVersion
- I lose my interest in meeting new people
- I want to come as late as I can and leave as early as I can after service.
- I start seeing actual ministry as an interruption to the tasks I need to get done.
- I enjoy video announcements more than worship
- I listen to the sermon for other people rather than for myself.
- I get picky about the song list
- I focus more on how the service is being done than on the presence of God.
Serving God should never become a job to us. As spiritual leaders, we must to fight every day to keep the fire of God alive in our hearts. When I find myself slipping into a “God is my job” attitude, this is what I do to get back on track:
Do a health check:
- Am I being consistent in my spiritual disciplines? (Prayer, bible study, giving, and periodic fasting)
- Am I guarding the gateways to my soul? (My eyes and ears — what I watch and listen to has an impact on your attitude)
- Am I practicing thankfulness? (Our default as humans is to be ungrateful and negative. We have to be intentional about cultivating thankfulness and positivity in our minds.)
Hit the reset button on my identity
Remember this, before you are a pastor, pastor’s wife, church staff, or lay leader, you are first and foremost a child of God. He has entrusted you with responsibility and a calling, but at the end of the day, he still calls you “son” or “daughter.” there is no pretense with God. He sees through all of it, so get real with Him.
Hit the reset button on my church experience
Even though you may have a service role at church, you still need to be able to experience God’s presence. Whatever opportunity you have to pray, worship, or participate in the service, make it count. Don’t merely go through the motions.
Do you ever slip into the “God is my job” mentality? How to you get back on track?
Published January 1, 2014