If you are on the Threads Web site looking for leader-oriented help, I’m going to take a crack at defining just who I think you are.
- You’re passionate about reaching this emerging generation.
- You’re probably in the midst of starting something new.
- You’re driven.
- You have an entrepreneurial mindset toward church.
- You might even be planting a church.
With all of this in mind, I would like to ask you an important question: Who are you working for?
Last week I had a great conversation with Mike Harder over lunch. Mike, the author of the Threads studies Jaded and In Transit: What Do You Do with Your Wait?, is planting a church here in Nashville. We were talking about the trials and tribulations of launching a Sunday worship gathering in a local high school.
Part of the conversation went something like this:
Jim: So what is your goal for how many people show up to this first service?
Mike: Well, the success-oriented side of me really wants to see 300 or 350 people. But I think the godly side of me says 100 or 200 would be great.
Mike is an unusually mature young man in church leadership, evidenced by the fact that he already understands there is a huge difference between worldly success and God-honoring success when it comes to a church’s activity. Mike is clearly working for God, and he acknowledges staying employed with the right boss is a full-time commitment of the heart.
It all comes down to this: Are you working for God or are you really just working for yourself?
James 3:13-18 spells this out very clearly for all of us as leaders:
Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and SELFISH AMBITION in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and SELFISH AMBITION exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Don’t stop there, though. Keep reading into chapter 4, where James really takes a bite out of the ego of believers.
Here is the point: If you’re working for yourself, you really may not consider your work filed under the category of “selfish ambition,” but at the end of the day, that’s really all it is. If your goal in church planting is to found a megachurch, so that 20 years from now everyone will call you a genius for your great knowledge of church growth, then you’re working for yourself.
However, if your goal in young adult ministry or any other endeavor is simply to glorify God by bringing one more person to the feet of Jesus, and to help enable that person to personally—and for a lifetime—connect with the Savior, then your ministry will succeed.
The great truth of this passage from James is this: If your heart is pure, God is going to send libraries upon libraries of wisdom into your heart and mind for you to accomplish His purposes and to bring glory to His name. You will face daily challenges, but He will give you the wisdom and the fruit of the Spirit to overcome these challenges, no matter how difficult they may be.
On the other hand, if you’re working for yourself, then the only wisdom you will be able to access is from within the 3.5 pounds of gray matter floating around inside your skull. Every time you have a difficult situation cross your path, you will treat the people involved as if they are personally trying to destroy your ministry and your self-made kingdom. As James 3:16 notes, you can expect to encounter “disorder and every kind of evil.” Although you may see success in your work, it will be at the expense of both joy and peace.
Again my question for you is, who are you working for?
It’s a question I ask myself every day. If we don’t get that right, nothing else matters.