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Burnt matches, concept for highly prevalent resident burnout. Highly prevalent resident burnout.

You Can’t Depend on Christian Service to Be Your Strength

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Are you active in Christian service? According to one survey, 43% of evangelicals are considered “highly active” in their local churches, while only 16% of Catholics are (see here). It seems that most evangelicals are not serving as much as they should. But what is your motivation for service? And how does having the wrong motivation impact your walk with Christ?

I can safely say that I’ve always been in the “highly active” category. I began serving in different Christian ministries a few months after becoming a Christian. I was the VP of my college InterVarsity chapter. I taught Sunday school for little kids, college students, and adults. I’ve led youth groups, and done pulpit supply, street preaching, and street ministry with homeless kids. I’ve worked as a chaplain, interim pastor, and pastor, and for the last ten years, I’ve worked in full-time Christian publishing. But more than that, I’ve been a full-time Christian husband, father, and neighbor!

Jesus designed every Christian to be a minister (Eph 4:11-12). Besides being given the general command to love your neighbors, which would be enough of a call to service, you also have at least one spiritual gift, which is for developing the health of the Body of Christ. No question serving the Lord is essential, so find your gift and exercise it.

However, here’s something people will seldom warn you about Christian service. Even when you know that salvation is by faith apart from works—i.e., apart from serving—you still might begin looking to your ministry for your identity, sense of worth, and the basis of your relationship with God. You could look to ministry as your source of spiritual supply. In other words, you might think your ministry is what “feeds” you spiritually. You can be so occupied with Christian service that you’re no longer are occupied with Christ.

Do you consider being an active Christian your source of life, strength, or supply? If so, that’s a recipe for burnout and disappointment.

The letter to the Hebrews says this:

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:1b-2a).

Why keep your eyes on Jesus? Because only Christ can be your supply, strength, and life.

Run the race—serve as the minister Jesus wants you to be—but don’t depend on the race for the strength to run it.

Thought for the day: Don’t look to Christian service for what only Christ can give you.


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