I suppose that if most pastors or Christian workers were totally honest that they would acknowledge a little envy at how some clergy, Christian authors or gifted speakers get all the attention and acclaim, get to talk with Oprah, etc, while the rest of us struggle to get anyone to listen to us—-let alone applaud us. I am sure that there some pastors that have no ego and not a vain hair on their head, it’s just that I don’t know any.
But as I whine to God about how hard it’s been for me this year, or for the past thirty years, or why can’t I be as prominent, well received and as acknowledged as other men, He has shown me the dangers of success——even in Christian ministry.
I know that I put myself at risk when I say things like this, so please bear with me and forgive me for expressing “righteous indignation”, but I have seen and heard many of those widely adored and successful pastors and Christian speakers over the past many years. And the one consistent emotion I felt (outside of some jealousy for how popular and revered they were) was something about their message and presentation that did not seem right—-their language did not seem to represent Jesus Christ, but instead their own egos. I am speaking of the first time I heard Bill Hybels speak at a Christian Camp convention in Chicago, and the many times I watched Ravi Zacharias on the Internet and TV, the times I saw Jerry Falwell, Jr. stomp for Donald Trump or Liberty University, and the interviews of Hunter Biden or his comments to others about his business dealings.
It might appear unseemly that I have “named names” here, but if you read Saint Paul’s letters, he did the same thing. He spelled out the names of those who were vainglorious, arrogant, always wanted to be first, etc. John the Baptist lost his head for preaching directly to Herod!
For the past ten years I feel that my life and ministry has focused on surviving, or not giving up, holding on and waiting for a “something” to lift us up and set us onto higher ground. That might sound like an exaggeration, but whereas I am blessed, no one could say that my life has been easy over the past decade. And yet, as I have fought with the temptation of slipping into self-pity or depression, I can see not only His hand ever upon me to steady me, but also to give me that which I really need, but very rarely much more than I need. Why? Because I think He knows what would happen to me if I got too much and if my life were too easy and too blessed.
God knows, far better than me, how clumsily and tastelessly I would handle too much of His blessings and how easily I would succumb to temptations if people began to think to highly of me or my work. God knows what He is doing. He is covering me with His wings, so to speak, to keep my eyes off those things that sparkle, glimmer and steal my attention off of Him.
“.. give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?…” (Proverbs 30:8 NIV) Wise words….