I had lunch with another youth worker who just started a new job as a youth pastor. We were talking about his transition and he made an honest statement that got me thinking. He said, “when I got to the new job I felt like I had to prove that they made the right choice by hiring me”. His statement got me thinking because in ministry we can easily do that with God. God starts to use us in changing students lives and students start to respond. Everything is going good and instead of having this continual heart of surrender and thankfulness that we are being used, pride comes in and disguises self gratification with proving ourselves to God and others. Because we think they need to know they made the right choice by choosing us. We start off motivated by the need to serve others and share the gospel. Then somewhere along the line we get hooked on the accolades given when lives are changed. It feels good to be doing something right, with something you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life. So we start doing things in our own strength, we seek to fix problems or do things to gain recognition all in the name of proving ourselves (gratifying self). We have to give all the right answers and give the right feedback. We go beyond the call of duty just to prove we are needed. I definitely do not believe we start off with the intention to seek self gratification, but neither did Adam, Samson or David but they all found themselves in a place they probably thought they’d never be.
When we lose focus of what should motivate us to do what we do, we open ourselves up to being deceived. When Nathan confronted David of the sins he had committed all for the sake of self gratification, David’s eyes were open to the deception that had overtaken him. David was awaken to the fact that he was far from where he started. I know we’ve all been there before, where our need for approval/self gratification was disguised as a healthy benefit to ourselves or others (self-deception). Here are a few questions I ask myself and things that I do to avoid self deception. Thought I’d share them:
- Ask yourself- Do I have a Nathan in my life? Have I given someone permission to call me out? Do I have someone in my life that will call me out despite what it would do to them or our relationship?
- Ask yourself- Am I trusting in myself to live the life God has called me to live? – Psalm 118:8 says for us to put no confidence in man. I must remind myself that I can do nothing good apart from Christ. I want to live everyday focused on the fact that it’s only by God’s mercy and grace I am here and can do anything. He has given me every ability I have, and as I use them, He gets the glory, not me.
- Ask yourself- Am I motivated by anything other than what Christ did on the Cross? – Avoid the hypocrisy and review the motives of your actions and not just your actions. Be honest about your feelings of pride and entitlement if any.
- Frequent Spiritual Checkups. – The bible warns us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith. We have to examine our deeds as well as our motives to make sure that our actions are of God. Good intentions does not equal right and the heart is desperately wicked. Allow God’s word to be the authority for what’s true and right. Examine yourself.
Never think you are beyond being deceived. Trust Christ more than yourself.
hope it helps