Gordon Macdonald, in His book Building Below the Waterline, vulnerably shares four flawed motivations for his entering ministry.
Need for Approval
Validation by Achievement
Longing for Intimacy
Power of Idealism
Motives are very rarely pure, when I first considered taking a year out of work to serve a Navigators ministry at the university. I asked my pastor at the time for wisdom. I admitted to him that my motives were quite muddy, either way. His response was that ‘motives are very rarely pure, even when they are they remain susceptible to twisting and distortion’.
This has been a principle for me in discipleship all these years later.
But if motives are so susceptible, what can we do about it?? 2 quotes from Macdonald which may help:
“Only the man or woman who baptises his or her motivations every dat will have any hope that things will not turn sour down the road”
“The moment you think of the Kingdom as a place to achieve, to become valuable, to connect, or to be a major player, you will quickly discover that this was never what Jesus had in mind when He said, ‘Follow me’.”
May we be a people who ‘baptise our motivations’ daily, and purge ourselves (with the Spirit’s help) of any and all fleshly residue!
It’s been an interesting transition the last few weeks, I’ve made a move to combine blogging with my walk with God. And there have been some great benefits to doing this:
Consolidating my thoughts
A mild form of accountability
Future Benefits – I’m creating a resource to look back on and use later.
Encouraging others – at least I hope so!
However one main concern has surfaced fairly quickly. I do not want to sacrifice the intimacy I have with God during my quiet times because my mind is elsewhere, thinking about how every thought and idea could be transposed into blog format!
It was an issue I found, as a teenager, when I decided to start a weekly gathering for other young guys at my Church. I would be churning through Bible readings, sermon podcasts and books to glean material for the next meeting.
This is not the point of reading the Bible, prayer or listening to sermons. I don’t read the Bible to become a “man of the word”, I don’t pray to become a “man of prayer”, I don’t listen to talks to regurgitate the latest insights. I engage in these activities to nurture my relationship with God, to become more like Jesus and to better equip myself to serve, encourage and love others.
So how do I fight for intimacy whilst at the same time seek to lead, labour, inspire and encourage others? How do I fight to keep my relationship with God from becoming a transactional encounter? What have I learned over the last couple of weeks?
Ijournal my prayers – a few years ago I was having coffee with a mentor and he pulled out of his bag a proper looking leather bound journal. It was like something out of Lord of the Rings! He opened it up and told me to read one of his prayers, while he went to order another coffee. Just holding that journal was precious, and I could see later as he flicked through it that the pages were filled with numerous prayers. A few weeks later and I’d ordered my own. So what with note-taking, blogging and journaling, there is a lot of writing in my times with God. But this is helpful for me, it helps me to remember, to process and to express myself. It also helps my mind to focus when I’m talking to God, it’s difficult to write and think about breakfast (or fall asleep!) It also slows down my thinking, so that I can invite God to interrupt the chaos in my mind.
Journaling allows me to keep the intimacy in the midst of blogging, because it keeps a part of my relationship with God hidden and secretive.
Itake my time. Before I started seriously studying God’s word, my morning routine was packed with 4 main activities. Exercise, Time with God, Writing, and reading. I’d give about 45-60 minutes to each all before work started. Now, I’ve reduced my morning routine down to two items. 1) Running and Weightlifting, 2) Time with God. And so each morning I’m getting a solid chunk of time uninterrupted to study, to pray and to process God’s word. It has been so refreshing, and I think one of the most helpful things towards this is: that I have set aside the space so that I can take my time.
You’ll have also noticed I’m only publishing 3x study blogs a week. This means there is very little pressure to post every day what God’s teaching me. There is room, and time, to wrestle with God through private issues. And scope for me to spend mornings simply being with God. It’s so good! And I would highly recommend it.
I listen to God’s Spirit. I believe it was He, who made me aware of the dangers of losing the Intimacy in the first place. He, who bought it to my attention so that I could counterbalance the dangers, and protect myself. It will be Him, who will guard my heart and mind and bring me to maturity.
May I continue to choose what is better, like Mary, and sit at Jesus’ feet. Rather than being distracted by all the “preparations”, the work, the ministry.