As much as I love ministry and serving God’s people, I know that ministry does not define me as a person. If God were to take my ministry away tomorrow, I would be content in Christ knowing that His love for me is sufficient whether or not I am functioning as a pastor/elder. But this is not the same for everyone.
There are people out there, Christians, that think that their life has no meaning outside of ministry. They think that God has called them to a certain ministry and they will always be called to that ministry no matter what the circumstances (even if they’ve been disqualified). What this shows is a false identity in ministry. Let me give you an example.
There is a podcast audio that hits this subject hard. Some of you are familiar with the band Citizens & Saints (which we post about on this blog). Zach Bolen, who is part of the band, came to discuss their new album. But he was asked about his relationship with the famous Mark Driscoll and the “celebrity preacher mentality.”
So he tells the story of the band going around doing some concerts shortly after Driscoll resigned, and the band found themselves at one large church whose pastor was a personal friend of Mark. This man had been talking to Zach after the concert and commented on the resignation by saying, “I just hope Mark can be restored back to ministry.” Zach, dealing firsthand with Driscolls disqualification, initially tried not to respond. But then after thinking about it, came back with a response. He said to him,
“I feel like that’s selling the power of God’s work in Mark’s life short. At the end of the day, Mark is not a pastor first, that’s not who God sees him first and foremost. He sees him as a son. Our primary responsibility should be to pray that Mark would himself as that…. He [Mark] was not created to be the rockstar pastor that would take the world by storm… God created him in His image and redeemed him as a son first and foremost…” (I recommend listening to it. Audio begins at minute 34:40 – from The Reformed Pubcast).
I think his words are still relevant given the fact that Mark Driscoll is starting a new church in Arizona. Driscoll’s ministry idolatry and false identity in ministry is showing itself in the fact that he is still forcing a ministry that should not exist. In a similar fashion, I have known men, who even after their disqualification still push themselves into the ministry and claim that it is “their gift” or “God’s calling,” when it’s purely seeds of selfishness and pride. Like Zach stated, this is sadly selling God’s work short. To say that your life would amount to nothing if not in ministry would be a slap in the face to every lay person in the universal church. It is as if you are saying that every person outside of a pastor/elder has no meaning to their life. But our identity is not in our vocation or our ministry. It is in our salvation in Jesus Christ and how God now defines us as His children (See post on “Identity Crisis“).
If God takes away ministry from you, don’t complain. Maybe God is most glorified in not having you in a certain ministry. If God is truly sovereign, and He orchestrated such circumstances to remove you, then why fight God and attempt to put yourself in a place that you should not be?
All this to say, ministry is not what defines us a Christians. Yes, ministry is part of life, and we are to give ourselves to the service of God’s people. However, if God removes a certain ministry from us (however He does it), then we need to remember that Christ is sufficient no matter what our ministry is or is not.
P.S. I came across this blog that relates to this topic, especially the first warning. Check out 3 Warnings From a Pastor Leaving the Ministry