By Dale Sellers
I have to admit that I don’t stay up to speed on the latest controversies and current topics that fill social media every day. I find most of it exhausting. But in all transparency, it took me a while to arrive at this point. Previously, I’d allowed myself to believe that my ministry effectiveness would be diminished if I wasn’t constantly pursuing all platforms to stay “in the know.” I also feared that I’d be out of touch with the masses if I weren’t continually offering my opinion on everything. All of this became a big distraction for me.
I’m referring to more about what’s been happening to me internally over the last two years as I try to find the proper balance between what influences me and what I influence.
Now, I want to be clear. I believe ministry leaders have a much greater opportunity to reach people outside of the church through social media. So please don’t take my opening thoughts as a dissuasion of staying current through technology or using social media to reach the unchurched.
I’m referring to more about what’s been happening to me internally over the last two years as I try to find the proper balance between what influences me and what I influence. At 95Network, we’re constantly seeking direction from the Lord on how He wants us to serve small and midsize churches and leaders. And although you may not realize it, we’re just as emotionally drained as you are from navigating this season.
There Is A Divine Calling
It’s with this personal internal conflict in mind that I write today’s article. We’ve all witnessed the consequences when people “sound off” on a topic that’s been intentionally designed to elicit emotional responses. The boldness to criticize and attack each other while hiding behind a computer screen continues to astound me. So many of the biting and hurtful things people say on social media would never happen if they had to look the person they are attacking in the eye. Sadly, people can be turned off by our attitudes and the things they see us post. This eventually causes us to lose our voice in the community.
I recently saw a thread discussing whether or not having a divine calling into the ministry is considered valid. After seeing a few of the “expert” opinions both for and against the notion, I had had enough. In most of these theological discussions, I find myself looking for someone that I already agree with to take sides with them. Now granted, I refrain from falling into the “opinion abyss,” but it still becomes a distraction.
It’s also where my internal conflict surfaces. Do I want to be influenced or be an influencer? Also, why do I allow all of these opinions to affect me in the first place? And, when did I start allowing this to happen?
I think we allow outside influences to control our opinions, and even actions, when we question if we are truly called into ministry. So let me say that I believe there is such a thing as being divinely called into the ministry.
The Bible teaches us in Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (ESV) I believe that every one of us was created on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose. The whole chapter of Psalm 139 communicates this fact.
As a pastor or ministry leader, your voice needs to be heard because you’ve been called to spread the Good News of the Kingdom.
Designed To Distract
As a pastor or ministry leader, your voice needs to be heard because you’ve been called to spread the Good News of the Kingdom. However, you must take notice of what you’re communicating. Are the topics and opinions you’re using your voice for the right ones?
A great Biblical example for all of us to study is found in Judges 13 – 16 in the life of Sampson. There’s no question that Sampson was created with a specific purpose for his life. However, if you spend some time reading about him, you’ll soon discover that he took the things God had given him for granted, which eventually led to his destruction.
“And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.”
Over time, Sampson became lax with some of the specifics of his Nazarite vow (his calling) and comfortable with the enemy he was designed to defeat. The great tragedy of Sampson’s life happens after he finally tells Delilah that his hair is the source of his strength. He then falls asleep in her lap, and she brings in someone to shave his hair off. Judges 16:20 says, “And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” (ESV)
Let that settle in for a moment . . . “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” Wow! How horrible would that be to go and do what you’ve easily done in the past only to realize the source of your strength is suddenly gone.
My greatest desire for you as you lead your ministry through these ever-changing times is that you would learn to do ministry from Jesus instead of for Him. I pray that you can rely on His strength and not your own. Doing so will require a level of intimacy in your personal relationship with Him that requires you to eliminate distractions intentionally.
Here are a few things that I do to help me become more intentional about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through my life. Each point has a personal introspective question for you to answer too.
1 – Be intentional about removing outside distractions.
Do you set your calendar and order your day each week, or do you just let life happen?
2 – Be honest with yourself about what you’ve come to value.
Are you using distractions to fill your emotional tank because you’re doing ministry in your own strength?
3 – Ask the Holy Spirit to “refill” you continuously.
Do you have an intentional process in the rhythm of your life to replenish after giving out so much?
4 – Recognize who you allow to influence your life.
Do the opinions, teachings, and approval of others have more impact on you than hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice?
5 – Seek proper balance with your social media engagement.
Have you developed a system to communicate through social media without being controlled by or ignoring it?
6 – Search your soul to discover the source of your discontentment.
If you’ve found that your soul has become restless, what are you doing to determine the source of this restlessness?
7 – Find a counselor you trust and then commit to letting them help you.
Are you putting in the effort to get the counseling, coaching, and mentoring you need?
The time has come for you and me to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we do ministry from Him. As valuable as they are, our training, experiences, and relationships will not lead us to develop sustained ministry strength. Sustained ministry strength comes through an intimate relationship with Jesus through His Spirit that allows His life to flow through ours.
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