As hard as we try, there are certain "killers" that can try to rob and kill our passion for God and the local church.
Here are two ministry killers that I have been processing recently, both have to do with offense, and our motives in following and serving God:
1. Don’t get offended by how God chooses to work in your life
Matthew 11:2-6 tells the story of John the Baptist's struggle with this: "When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
The crazy thing about John the Baptist was that he was a spiritual giant! Jesus spoke more highly of his faith than anyone else! Honestly, it's always encouraging to see such spiritual people like John struggle with faith. Gives us hope for our own lives.
The picture this passage gives is that John the Baptist got offended because Jesus wasn’t working the way he expected Him to work – in his own situation or in Jesus’s ministry! We need to make room in our hearts for God to do exactly as He pleases in and around our lives.
2. Don’t get offended by how God chooses to work in the lives of others around you
In a story of another spiritual giant, Peter talks with Christ in John 21:18-22: "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”
A second, sometimes tougher challenge as we serve God is seeing how he works in the lives of others around us and wanting that for ourselves. But Jesus still says, "how I work in someone else's life, what is that to you? You focus on following Me!"
In the legacy of quotes like William Carey’s “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God” (he came up with that tweetable quote before twitter!), I developed a phrase to remember about this:
Get excited about the ways God is using others around you. Believe in the great things God has in store for you.
All in all - don’t worry about or get offended by how God is using others, and don’t have an agenda with what God is going to do with your life. Stay close and do exactly what He tells you to do.