You have likely observed two common and opposite errors in relation to physical fitness and health—neglect or obsession. Neglect often looks like minimal exercise, eating to relieve stress, and ignoring the neglect you know is occurring. Obsession often looks like being unable to enjoy a meal because you are so consumed with counting the macros, measuring or weighing continually, and thinking non-stop about your body. Perhaps you have bounced in between these two (I have) and learned that both extremes are not pleasing to God and not good for you.
Our tendency to drift impacts not only our health, but also our approach to the ministries God has given us. Here are four sets of common and opposite errors that ministry leaders must avoid to be faithful stewards of the sacred calling that God has given us.
1. Lazy or Workaholic
A mentor once told me that “local church ministry can be a haven for the lazy or the workaholic.” The mystery behind much of the work of pastoring can allow some to not do much of anything, and the unfinished nature of the work of pastoring can pull the sin of workaholism to the surface. A lazy person can hideout and a workaholic can burnout in local church ministry. Both extremes must be diligently avoided.
2. Truth Without Grace or Grace Without Truth
Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Some attempt to only speak the truth and others attempt to only offer grace. Notice I use the word “attempt,” because as Randy Alcorn insightfully wrote, “Truth without grace crushes people and ceases to be truth. Grace without truth deceives people and ceases to be grace.” We must not choose between the two.
3. Love Offending or Unwilling To Offend
If you love to offend people, ministry is not the place for you. And if you are unwilling to offend people, ministry is not the place for you. Both loving to offend and being unwilling to offend are bad for the sheep in God’s flock. The sheep need compassion and clarity. They benefit from shepherds who love them and the truth—and are willing to share the truth even when it offends. Loving people and loving the truth keeps us from the ditches on both extremes.
4. Needing Ministry or Neglecting Ministry
To need ministry in order to feel like your life has worth is to make a god of the gift of ministry. To not work diligently is to neglect the gift of ministry God has given. In Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus’s desire for his disciples to serve passionately while also not idolizing ministry. When the disciples returned to him rejoicing from a full day of ministry, Jesus gave a strong instruction: “…don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Jesus wants us to rejoice more in what he has done for us than in what we do for him.
Remembering who we are helps keep us faithful and away from the common errors. We are servants of Christ and stewards of His grace (1 Corinthians 4:1). He has rescued us and made us his own and given us his message of grace and truth to faithfully steward. May we rejoice in him first and serve others with a holy grit because of what he has done for us.
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.