- “All ministry really flows out of my ministry to God. If I’m trying to minister to people without ministering to God, where I get my joy, I get my life, then I’m going to run out of juice.”
All ministry really flows out of my ministry to God. If I’m trying to minister to people without ministering to God, where I get my joy, I get my life, then I’m going to run out of juice.
Sometimes we forget to minister to God first. Jesus proclaimed in the greatest commandments to Love God and Love Others (Mathew 22:36-40). He listed to love God first, and for good reason. All believers, whether in full-time ministry, part-time ministry, lay ministry, or lifestyle ministry, are called to minister to God first. And one of the primary ways we do this is through worship. The motive to love God first starts in the quiet place, away from others, with no production, no lights, no instruments, just singing from the heart professing our love for God.
Flipping the Commandments
Flipping the commandments and trying to minister to people first, by writing or performing songs that focus on whether people will like them, whether churches will sing them, will they sell, or will they receive an award, invites danger. It first causes us to lose joy and energy, and invites burnout. And second, it fosters a lack of authenticity, a lack of depth, and just poor art. Loving God first brings balance and a centering on right motives that energizes and invigorates us to love God and, by doing so, to love others.
While walking on a beach in California, God probed Steve’s heart with a still-small-voice. God asked, why are you doing these things: drama ministry, small groups, worship ministry, and so many others? These are good, but are they the best? What is the real motive behind them? This is a question all of us should ask ourselves. Is our motive for ministry driving us to do what is good, or what’s best? The right motive centers us, gives us energy, and keeps burnout at bay.
God’s Work Our Way
Steven makes the point that often we try to do God’s work our way, and don’t put the right motive first. “If we can keep the why we worship in front of us, then that, I think, keeps us aligned within the parameters of God’s ways, that then will enable us.” Honestly assessing the motivation behind the song writing, worship services, touring, production, and other aspects of the worship ministry must hinge on a right motive. Does it minister to God first?
Motives start deep in the heart, unseen by others. They are between us and God; we can’t fake them, or hide them from Him. Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every person’s way is right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines the hearts.” We must assess our motive daily. It’s a never-ending process. Jesus gave us two commandments as a measure of our motives: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul and mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” These commandments in this order are not just good, but best.
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Known widely for penning such songs as Oh I Want to Know You More and Oh The Glory of Your Presence, Steve has traveled the globe speaking at churches and conferences, leading mission teams, and touring with his musicals We Are Called, Thy Kingdom Come, and Storyteller. He is the author of a number of books including the popular I AM: The Unveiling of God and True Freedom: What Christian Submission and Authority Look Like.