Ministry and People-Pleasing Poison

Perfection existed in the Garden of Eden, before the fall.

After the fall, perfection existed on this earth no more, and everything was now broken. Everything.

Living now guarantees death. Health nearly always ends in illness. Relationships can shatter, as loving another becomes difficult work. The weather turns violent and unpredictable. Your lawn grows weeds.

Everything is broken. If we just look around, we will see that it is true.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying really hard all the time to recapture that perfection, in every area of life.
Perfection, that insidious tempter. 

Every believer is called to ministry in this imperfect world, and it is in ministry that the temptation to be perfect, the temptation to ATTEMPT RIGHTEOUSNESS, is most troubling.

Serving in an official church position is very challenging, because this is where the Kingdom of Heaven and the world can have the most violent collisions. 

We want to be pleasing to God, but so often, we attempt righteousness by trying to please people. 

To try to please people can be so poisonous to our souls and to our walks with God.

A couple of summers ago, I was walking around my neighborhood and meditating on this very idea of attempting to be perfect. What an exhausting endeavor it is! 

Just then, I noticed up ahead that there was a lawn service truck, and out jumped a couple of guys in haz mat type of gear, holding a big container of some weed-killing chemicals. Poison.

And as those guys doused the lawn with that poison, I realized that the Lord was providing an illustration to my meditation.

In many ways, attempting righteousness is like that poison. We try to look good, and to be good, and to be pleasing to others, but it is a poisonous endeavor…it is not eternal, it is worldly and it is not God-honoring, but rather self-serving.

And therein lies the difference between ministry and politics, I think. It can get to be an intertwined mess, if we don’t keep our eyes on Jesus. That’s why so many of my ministry friends have memorized the following verses:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6 : 8)

That verse is rest for our souls. Our attempts at righteousness are so wearying because those efforts rarely work. We disappoint ourselves and others as we try for something that we can never attain on our own. And we suffer from guilt as we let others and ourselves down. 

But God…saves us from all of that pressure and poison!

These verses help us understand what the Lord truly asks of us. We are unburdened as we focus on the Lord, and seek to please Him, rather than others.

Thanks be to God!