Take five minutes out. Lean back in your chair at the office or put your feet up in your recliner. You might close your eyes to help you think and ponder. Now ask yourself a question that could determine if you’ll still have an effective ministry 20 years from now: “If Satan were to sneak into your pulpit, how would he do it?” Keep in mind that you won’t recognize him by his clothing or actions. He’ll be kind, polite, winsome, and attractive. But he’s ugly and deceptive underneath.
Effective ministry demands that we recognize the tactics of the enemy and then guard against them. Penetrating Satan’s mind and knowing that “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world” are key (I John 4:4).
Criss-crossing the world as an evangelist, I’ve seen five prominent ways he sneaks into the pulpit. Let’s examine what they are and how to avoid them.
1. Satan will convince you that you’re not only someone, you are SOMETHING.
God never uses one person or one ministry to touch everyone. It’s together that we get the job done. It’s the combination of spiritual gifts God uses to build up the body. That’s why I Corinthians 12:21 teaches, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'”
You are one of the “someones.” Uniquely gifted, God uses you and your giftedness to both reach the lost and build up those who are His. As people are helped and blessed, they let you know. They should! All of us need to be encouraged.
But one encouraging comment can become several comments, sometimes many comments. They come verbally through text messages and e-mails. Sometimes, comments you make get repeated on a Web site or two, and then you might find people have referred to you on Twitter or Facebook.
That’s when Satan causes you to think you’re not only someone, you are SOMETHING. Pride creeps in—not overnight, just one Sunday at a time. In six months, you start to be a different person. You begin to ponder, “Where would the church be without me? Why don’t other preachers develop the skills that I have? I never knew God was going to so abundantly use me.”
The answer for this problem is two-fold. First, secure an accountability partner who is honest enough to tell you every time they see something prideful about you. But don’t get defensive, since they are probably right and are trying to help (as you asked them to), not hurt. Secondly, every day remember something: Should you be wiped off the scene today, the work of Christ would go on pretty much unhindered. This fact is sobering to say the least and keeps you right where you need to be—feeling dependent, undeserving, and grateful.