I remember when we were called to our first church. As a young couple, we were nervous about how the people would receive us. My husband was confident in his knowledge of Scripture, was a prolific communicator and had energy and personality to reach the congregation that had begun to slip away.
I, on the other hand, was a novice. When we married, the pastorate was not our desire or goal. My husband thought he was headed for a career in teaching, but with each passing year, we saw God change his path. I wasn’t prepared for the title of pastor’s wife. It can be a daunting position to hold. But I was confident of our call to this little church and set out to do the best I could.
It wasn’t long before the people of the church began to ask questions: Would you play the piano for the evening service? No, I don’t play an instrument. (I was informed that the wife of one of the former pastors played the piano.) When would my Bible study begin? I wasn’t comfortable teaching a Bible study to these older, more mature women I didn’t even know. (I was informed the wife of the former pastor taught the ladies’ Bible study.) It didn’t take long for me to feel frustrated and inadequate. As my husband’s responsibilities and involvement grew, I felt like I had to keep up and fell into the trap of people-pleasing.
It became easier for me to say ‘yes’ to requests instead of seek out exactly how the Lord would have me minister to the church. Before I knew it, I was participating in activities and ministries that should have belonged to someone else. Pressure and guilt became my driving force instead of doing only the things that would bring glory to God.
In my personal study, I was reading through Paul’s epistles. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. This helped me focus on my reasons for doing ministry. If simply eating and drinking were to be done so that God could get glory, how much more my church involvement?
I began to re-evaluate what I was doing and forced myself to answer some questions when an opportunity was presented to me: What is my motive? To make my husband proud by participating in ministry alongside him?; To feed my ego and feel better about myself?; To fulfill others’ expectations of me?
None of these reveal the proper motive for undertaking a ministry or service.
I Samuel 16:7 reminds us that God looks on the heart. If my motive for doing ministry or service is anything but giving glory to God, I am doing it for the wrong reason. The congregation around me might not discern it, but God does. Certainly His standard is the one I want to strive for!