Paul Mallard tells us how to avoid making our ministry into an idol
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the glorious honour of preaching Christ.
Indeed, preachers should worry if they don’t enjoy it. However, they must never allow it to take the place of Christ.
A few decades ago my wife became seriously ill with a neurological condition, which could have resulted in the end of public ministry for both of us.1 I remember having to face this as a very real possibility. Amidst the tempest of painful and confusing thoughts that roared through my mind at the time, one of the greatest challenges was the realisation that I might never preach again.
It felt like a bereavement.
The Lord challenged me about my love for him. What was first in my affection? What did I love more: the proclamation of Christ or the Christ I proclaimed? I knew the right answer. I also knew my own heart. After a fierce battle, I remember sitting on a bench and then getting down onto my knees and praying something like this: ‘OK, Lord, I surrender. I want to love you more than my ministry. If you are going to take it from me, then I accept your will. Help me to delight in Jesus.
My ministry did not end. In fact, my wife and I discovered that we were able to minister out of the pain that we felt. And that’s another story. But the battle to keep Christ central has never gone away. It is a daily battle. Something in my heart always wants to replace the love of Jesus with the love of the things that I do for him.
What is the secret of victory?
It is to be utterly
This article is an edited extract from Staying Fresh: Serving with Joy by Paul Mallard, recently published by IVP and is used with permission.