Changing hearts in Knoxville
I loved being a part of sharing this story:
Work is a gift, and work ethic resides in men and women of character, but in our idolatry, we can easily make work our god. Pastors have warned me, “Ministry can be a great place to hide out and a great place to burn out.” Ministry can be a haven for the workaholic. In most jobs overwork feels sinful and neglectful, but when serving in ministry, overwork can wrongly feel holy. Ministry can attract workaholics, those who find their worth in their work and can’t walk away from it, and give them a reason to justify their addiction. The strokes and accolades that come to ministry workaholics can add fuel to the addiction.
So how can we fight workaholism in ministry? Because I love the roles I have served in and the people I have been honored to serve alongside, I have experience fighting the temptation to be a ministry workaholic. Here are four ways to engage in that fight.
A highly sexualized culture, combined with the expanse of technology, leaves our families vulnerable in a way that is unprecedented. While we can (and should) take every step in our power to prevent our children from gaining access to porn, we ought to prepare ourselves for the possibility of them seeking it out.
This conversation came to mind recently when I heard someone say that while they obey what the Bible said about sexual ethics, they certainly don’t like it. And this wasn’t a fledgling believer but an established leader. It raises the question: Do we have to like the things God says in the Bible? Is it enough to just grit our teeth and obey, even when we’re really not happy with what we’re obeying?
While discipleship obviously requires obedience, it also behooves us to understand what we’re obeying and why we’re obeying it.
It is the season of olive branches. At least, it is the season of metaphoric olive branches, of people offering peacemaking gestures, though whether these are genuine or opportunistic remains to be seen. My interest is more in the expression than the gestures themselves because this is yet another neat little idiom that is derived from the Bible. We offer olive branches because of a very important olive branch in a very important story in the most important book.
I believe what we need in our day is not to presume the ineffectiveness of the Holy Spirit working through the preached Word but to repent of our decades of pragmatic methodology and materialist theology and to reclaim the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the power of salvation for anybody, anywhere, any time. The United States desperately needs churches re-committed to the weird, counter-cultural supernaturality of biblical Christianity. And this means a re-commitment to rely on the gospel as our only power.
When Susie and I moved to Nashville just over three years ago, Labor Day of 2013, we moved here on the condition that I would work for Ed Stetzer at LifeWay for three years to fund my seminary degree, then we would find a church close to home to hire me and move back in September 2016.
Well, it hasn’t quite happened that way, and that’s quite all right.
A favorite from the archives:
Early on in my faith—in fact, nearly from the moment I became a Christian—I’ve been intrigued by an encounter in between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees. In Matthew 12:22-32, Jesus has just healed a demon oppressed man who had been brought to Him, and all the crowd marvelled. “Can this be the Son of David?” they asked.
But the Pharisees declared, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”