How’s Your Fire?

Once the initial excitement of ministry wears off, and the routineness of daily service sets in, what keeps you motivated for service? When the bruises from sheep bites start to mount and the pressures of other people’s problem’s begin to weigh heavy upon your heart, what gets you out of the bed in the morning? During these challenging times of the ministry, if we are not fueled by a passion for God, we will not survive; we will burn brightly at the start only to flame out at the end.

Several years ago, when I worked for Youth For Christ, I would often spend time mentoring new hires. I would always tell them that the most important thing they brought to the ministry was not their ability to get along with kids or their teaching skills, but their personal relationship with Christ. When you read about Jesus’ reinstatement interview of Peter in John 21, you see that there was only one question asked of him: “Do you love me?” Jesus said, if you love me, then feed my sheep. What qualified Peter for service to God was not his skills, education or resume, but his love for Christ.

I think we can learn something from Peter’s life.

Peter had a great and promising start!

  • He left his day job to pursue the call of the Lord (Matt. 4:19).
  • He was selected to be a part of Jesus’ initial ministry team (Matt. 10:2).
  • He displayed great spiritual insight (Matt. 16:13-20).
  • He demonstrated a willingness to step out on faith and trust God for great things (Matt. 14:22-34).
  • He vowed on his life that he would never turn away from Jesus (Matt. 26:31-35).

But Peter flamed out.

  • He denied knowing Jesus.
  • He experienced an emotional breakdown.
  • He returned to doing that which Jesus had called him from and influenced others to do the same.

How do we maintain long-term passion for the Lord?

  • Follow God, not the ministry (John 21:19). We can’t find our identity and purpose in what we do or where we do it, but only in who we do it for. If we focus too much on people or ministry, they will fail and disappoint us; bore and burn us; distract and disillusion us. God, however, never will because He stays the same yesterday, today and forever.
  • Follow closely, not from a distance (Matt. 26:58). In the whirlwind of preparing to feed others, we can’t forget to feed ourselves. We must nurture our personal (and not just our professional) relationship with Jesus through attendance His word and prayer.
  • Focus on your calling, not someone else’s (John 21:20-23). Our passion for God can grow cold when we begin to measure the “success” of our ministry by seeing how it stacks up against another’s. Comparative shopping is a sure way to douse our fire.
  • Focus on grace, not gifts (Luke 6:36-50). God does not call us because we are gifted; He gifts us because we are called. Our passion for God is fueled by our knowledge of how much grace God has to employ to use us as His instruments.

What douses your passion for the Lord and ministry?
How do you maintain your enthusiasm for the Lord?
Do you still approach God with a sense of expectancy or has it become routine for you?

Add your voice to the conversation. Someone may need to hear it.

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4 thoughts on “How’s Your Fire?

  1. Ritae Osborne

    Hey Pastor Perry, after reading the entire article. All is true if a persons passion is not set on the relationship with Christ.

    ~ I could remember when I was 19 years old, that was the very first time I was challenged concerning ministry. I was talked about for being a young woman(I was told that God don’t call women), too loud, when I shouted something was wrong and when I prayed people said that I prayed too long. What people did not understand was that my relationship with the Lord was established long before I actually accepted the call. When people said those things you better believed in hurt, but through the Word, elders, and simply the Holy spirit- the Lord reminded me everytime that it wasn’t about me or anyone else for that matter.

    ~It is all about God receiving the glory with my life in Christ Jesus. When I was a young girl, people would tell me God has a calling on my life and of course I would say, God can not use little me with all my flaws. It is God’s grace that brings tears to my eyes each time. Because when I look at my resume and if anyone else looked at it, it doesn’t appear that I would be qualified for such an awesome task. But we are called and how ever God wishes to use me he does.

  2. Steven Smith

    “How’s Your Fire” speaks directly to what I have experienced as a pastor. Your point about problems that can result from the envious comparing of our ministries to others is so true. Also I loved the way you made the point about how God does not call us because we are gifted but gifts us as a result of our call. God Bless!

  3. I am just recently emerging from a year or so of living under a dark cloud of depression. I realized that the source of this emotional downturn was my beginning to ask God the same question that Peter asked Jesus about John, “Lord, what about him?” I wanted to know why my path was so challenging and many of my peers seemed to be sailing along with thriving ministries. I am a witness that “envious comparing of our ministries” can take you right out of the game if you don’t get a handle on it.

  4. Mike Bonser

    One of the things that used to keep me going when “stuff” happened, was to keep an encouragement file. I would keep notes and letters that I got along the way from people who thanked me and told me what a difference I had made in their lives. Then I would thank God for alowing me to participate. Yes, a passion for God is the basis for all we do and is necessary for everyday life. Yes, falling back on that relationship is the absolute most important thing we can rely on. And, I think sometimes we can forget how He has allowed us to be a part of His working if we don’t set up a reminder.
    So, a practical idea for me was the encouragement file. It helps you forget the parent or kid who is upset with you – at least a little bit.

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