We have different beliefs and values. One of the things we value the most is being
successful and spectacular. I grew up in China and lived there for 18 years. It is a
common thing to pursue fame and fortune in Chinese culture. For example, we make
judgments to people according to apartments, vehicles, and their annual income.
Materialism lasted over multiple generations. It is not only taking place in China but
also in many other countries. Pursuing a better life is not a bad thing, just like the fuel
filled in our engines and keep us going. However, it becomes toxic when it is the only
thing we value.
Ministry leaders and those who are in training are human as well. How we act
and talk will be affected by the context we are carrying. There is no exception. In our
unconsciousness, more or less, we tend to expect ourselves to do something great. 1
The hope we are having is to bring differences to the world and make it a little bit
better. There is no problem with dreaming big. However, it becomes a problem when
the big dream and ambition turned into our destination of ministry. Though we don’t
bring it up to the table all the time, we are facing the temptation. We want to be great.
We want to do great things, just like a hero.
Jesus has a fully divine nature and a fully human nature, never sinned; but he was
tempted as we do. Jesus was tempted by Satan three times. The third time, Satan
brought Jesus to a high mountain. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms, and its
authority and splendor. To obtain fame and fortune, the only thing Jesus needed to do
was worship Satan. (Matthew 4) The temptation that ministers are facing is similar.
Sometimes, we want our names to be spectacular in the name of serving God.
What comes alongside fame and fortune is the feeling of control and the
sweetness of power. 2 When we are tempted, we are also challenged by losing that
sweetness. For example, we feel out of control, when church attendance numbers are decreasing.
We feel discouraged when the congregation’s spiritual life is not growing
significantly in the effort, we put in. We feel insecure when congregations don’t like
our sermons. We feel stressed when the church we are serving is facing a crisis. What
should we do in these kinds of situations?
The good news is that we have hope. First, Jesus, as the second Adam had
overcome temptation. For He set a new example of victory for us. He showed us that
it is possible to overcome the temptation of the spectacular. We can overcome it, not
with our willpower, but with His word and Holy Spirit. Second, the ministry we are
involved in is the Mission of God. The mission of God in Latin is Missio Dei. It
means that God is doing all things to unfold his plan. Sometimes, we misunderstand
that this mission is our mission. We tend to think about whether the ministry will be
succussed in accordance with how well we do. However, it is not about us. It is about
Him. (Proverbs 16:33) The kingdom is God’s kingdom. The mission is God’s mission.
God is actively letting His will be done; and letting His kingdom come. We are
invited to his mission to see how he works. It is ok for us to be human. It is ok for us
to have limitations. It is ok for us to not be perfect. Today, if we have tried our best
and trusted in God with all we do, it is enough. We don’t have to be great to save and
fix the world. Jesus Christ is the savior. Let Him do his work. May His name be