Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear for they are a rebellious house. – Ezekiel 12:2-3a
Last time we looked at “The Dimmer Switch Principle” and how our own individual sin/idolatry makes us blind to the light that God gives us today we are going to look at idols in ministry.
Ministry is your idol.
That’s a bold statement (no pun intended). And if you are perfectly honest you will probably resonate with it. C’mon be honest with yourself for a second, has your ministry never become an idol for you? I know it certainly has for me. There are times when I will ignore people for the sake of my ministry (how ironic right?) There are times when I will be studying or doing sermon preparation at Starbucks and someone from my congregation will come up to me and try to talk to me and I just blow them off. Its so ironic that the very person I am preparing a message for is the same person that bothers me the most. If I’m honest with myself my ministry is an idol.
But its not just ministry that that can be a idol:
Models are your idol.
Again lets be honest… have you ever thought that your way of doing ministry or your method of ministry or your model is God’s way? Have you gotten to the point where you will divide over or become angry with someone because they don’t believe in your model? I know I certainly have. That’s because at times my models are my idol. Or maybe it hasn’t even gotten to the point where you have had conflict over models, maybe everyone has bought into your model, and maybe just maybe you feel special because you created the perfect model. Maybe just maybe you found the model that is the be-all-end-all model. You have found the secret to ministry models. If that is you then Congratulations! Your model is your idol.
Your ministry and your models are your idols.
The reason I bring this up is because our idols make us blind to what God is doing in the world around us. Ed Stetzer often says “Hold on to your models loosely but hold on to Jesus firmly” (or something to that extent). I think Ed is right, we are to hold on to Jesus tightly, like our lives depended upon it (because it does). We are to hold on to our models loosely because ultimately our models are created by us. Our models are fabricated by human beings, much like so many of the other idols we worship. As a human creation they have no power whatsoever. Sure God can choose to use them by his own power, but if you place your trust in those models rather than in God and his power you have simply created an idol for yourself.
Check out what Colin Marshall and Tony Payne have to say about “traditions,” this applies just as much to “models” as well:
“We are all captive to our traditions and influenced by them more than we realize. And the effect of tradition and long practice is not always that some terrible error becomes entrenched; more often it is that our focus shifts way from our main task and agenda which is disciple-making. We become so used to doing things one way (often for good reason at first) that important elements are neglected and forgotten, to our cost. We become imbalanced, and then wonder why we go in circles.”
So be warned. Don’t let your models or traditions become an idol because they will come back to destroy you.
Here are some questions to think about:
- Is your ministry or model an idol?
- What is the deeper root idol behind this smaller idol?
- How does Jesus address this idol?
- How has your idolatry hurt your ministry?