Posts Tagged With: yielding to God

Show me the Money, pt. 2

I ended my previous post with these words:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ignoring the need for money in either the personal life of the pastor or the corporate life of the church. That would be foolish. Nor am I suggesting that the calling to pastoral ministry carries with it an implied vow of poverty. That would be irresponsible. I am simply stating that we have to know that we can trust God to provide for our needs and not make money the dominant, focal and defining point of our life and ministry.

There are a couple of significant benefits I have learned from settling this money business with God up front.

First, you will not be afraid of people. If you think that keeping your ministry’s “paying customers” happy is the requirement for financial stability, you may find yourself being guilty of the sin of partiality. You may begin to look at people financially (What can they give?) rather than spiritually (What do they need?). James warned against this sin: “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool” (vv. 1-3). But when you know that regardless of who writes the check, it is the Lord that pays your salary and your bills, it will reduce your reduce your temptation to compromise truth or cater to givers to keep them happy.

I once was at a meeting of pastors where one of the major topics of discussion was church finances. There was much lamenting about how many people gave far below their capacity to give. In the car on the way home, I asked a pastor why, if giving was such a problem in the church, it was not addressed by means of challenging people to pay tithes and offerings. The pastor told me that, quite frankly, he and most of his colleagues were afraid that if they preached about money they would anger people and thus risk losing what money those people were giving.

When you have come to a place of peace with God about the issue of money (and who controls it), people don’t scare you as much.

Second, you will not be afraid of not providing for your family. The responsibility of providing for a family can add significant stress to a pastor. Adding a wife to my faith journey added a new layer of challenge. In the early years, the challenge was for her. However, the longer we were married and then added children, I found that the challenge became for me. I took very seriously the mandate that I should protect and provide for my family. When I was flying solo, waiting on the Lord to provide, I did not have a hard time making sacrifices, but when those sacrifices were having to be made by my wife and kids, I began to struggle a bit more. I didn’t want them to go without (or with less) because I was in ministry. I wanted to be able to take care of them without the “stress” of earlier years of waiting on the Lord.

When I moved to Denver in 1999 to take a position with a new ministry and a fat new salary, I made the promise to my wife that I would never put her in that financially challenging situation again. I should have whispered, because God heard me and I don’t think He appreciated my misplaced self-confidence. Within months after our relocation, we were in the same position again as the ministry did not have the funds to pay my salary. The combination of the understandable frustration from this situation combined with my ill-advised promise was a toxic cocktail that threatened my ministry, (it made me want to find a regular job that would eliminate these financial swings) and my mind (I was discouraged, angry and despondent).

When we shared this situation with my pastor, he provided a concise evaluation that has forever changed my perspective. He said, “First, that is a promise that you should never have made because it is not one you can keep. You don’t know what God has in store for your life. Second, God is the provider for you and your family, not you.” That was just the reality check I needed to push (more like slap) me back in line. As I reflected over the years of God’s faithfulness, He reminded me that it was always Him and not me that had provided for my family. Nothing had changed.

Make your peace with God right now about the issue of money. Don’t let your concerns about it, your pursuit of it or your fear of the lack of it derail your ministry. Learn to trust God with this area of your life because you will pay a great price if you don’t, but have great peace if you do.


Categories: Money | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Calling: Deconstruction for Reconstruction

I was having a conversation with a pastor who was also writing about this issue of the “divine call”. He said “I tell people that they don’t want to go anywhere near ordained/licensed ministry unless they are clear God is calling them.  That warm, exuberant, passionate emotion for christian ministry may or may not be God calling.“ Another young minister said to me that he didn’t realize how much of a challenge the ministry would be and how much of a cost it would exact from he and his family. A childhood friend of mine was just ordained to the office of pastor. On her Facebook page I offered this scripture (Hebrews 5:1-4) as a word of encouragement and challenge:
“Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.”

Answering the call of God is no small matter – it costs you your life. As I continue to think on God’s call of Moses, I see a pattern of deconstruction for reconstruction that is necessary for anyone who will be effectively used of God.

Here I am (Ex. 3:4)- God may call, but that doesn’t mean that we have to answer the phone (or in Moses’ case, the bush). Answering the call begins with the simple, but frightening step of making yourself available to God. Most of us sense God’s gentle nudges towards our purpose, but sometimes we think that if we ignore Him long enough, He’ll get tired and leave us alone. It’s not until we yield our will (”Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening“) that God can begin to use us. But this yielding sets in motion a grinding, humbling, uncomfortable process of deconstruction.

Who am I (Ex. 3:11) – A new friend, Mo, is participating in a leadership development/spiritual formation program in our church. In response to my inquiry as to how it was going, she said, ”I am lost. I don’t know I am anymore.“ She went on to explain how God was challenging everything she thought she knew about herself. Becoming business partners with God can be dangerous to your self esteem. His greatness and perfection make us painfully aware of our own impotence and lack of qualifications. (”Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.“ Isaiah 6:5). When you yield to God and begin to experience His unfolding plan for your life, it can be overwhelming. But this is a necessary and unavoidable step. In the absence of this self-emptying, we will become self-important. We will rely on our own intelligence, talents and plans rather than wholly leaning on God.

Someone has said that because God creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, He must first reduce His servants to nothing before He rebuilds and uses them for His glory.
God spent four decades humbling and preparing Moses for his destiny. What a contrast between 40 year old self-sufficient leader and the 80 reluctant servant!

We are not ready to be used by God until we are convinced that he have nothing to give Him. Our call continues with a reconstructing of a worldview on the foundation of a self-existent God.

I AM (Ex. 3:14) – God has not called me because I have so much to offer Him, but because He has so much to offer me. I must reorient my sense of self and purpose around who He is and what He wants to do (”He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.“ (John 3:30 NLT). My purpose is to serve Him and bring Him glory, not the other way around. When we looked at and lived life from our own vantage point, knowledge began with our own personal ideas and efforts. But Proverbs 1:7 tells us that ”the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge… .“ We live for years being indoctrinated with a worldview that tells us that we are the center of the universe and that we are the captains of our own destinies. Being a servant of God requires a deconstruction of that flawed philosophy and a reconstruction of a life built on the foundation of the great ”I AM.“ Anything less is bound to fail.

Do you agree or disagree that this is a process that every person called into ministry must engage?
What did or does this process look like for you?
Is it a one time deal?

Please add your voice to the conversation.

Categories: Calling | Tags: , , , , ,

Blog at