Sometimes I have a flash of lucidity, suddenly enlightened that my dreams are ever so hollow.
Many of my plans and purposes are self perpetuating, self sustained, self absorbed. They are all about self, which leaves little room for the divine—cramped space for God’s presence. But, alas, I have become an expert at hiding the shallowness of my self perpetuating dreams behind the facade of ministry. The stage of Christian ministry that I have stood proudly upon at many intervals throughout the last 20 years of service causes the Christian public’s eye to see me differently than the inner reality of me.
This is not gospel. I think God is utterly opposed to this kind of professionalism in Christian ministry.
This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines. – John 3:30, Message
The reality is, I am not a professional. Rather, I am a cracked vessel, a jar of clay, yet (thankfully) filled with undeniable power, albeit, not of myself.
There is something so silly—yet so alluring—about the facade of Christian professionalism (I would also tend to use the word Christian celebrity, as an adjective).
Here’s what John Piper has to say about it in the context of the pastoral calling:
We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and the heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness, there is no professional tenderheartedness, there is no professional panting after God. Brothers, we are not professionals. We are outcasts. We are aliens and exiles in the world. Our citizenship is in Heaven, and we wait with eager expectation for the Lord. You cannot professionalize the love for His appearing without killing it. And it is being killed. The world sets the agenda of the professional man; God sets the agenda of the spiritual man. The strong wine of Jesus Christ explodes the wineskins of professionalism. – John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Buy John Piper’s book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, for a limited 99 cents special offer, or download the PDF for free.
He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30, KNJV
Oh, Lord, destroy all my selfish ambitions of Christian professionalism and celebrity. Replace them with the selfless elements of godliness. Forgive me for using your ministry to advance my own kingdom. I am simply a cracked jar of clay. I pray that you would continually fill me with your all-surpassing power. May I slip off to the sidelines. May you receive the glory. I offer to you my dreams, my passions, my purposes, my ambitions. Be glorified to use me in my weakness that your strength might abundantly be made known to the nations.