I recently concluded a lesson series with our students entitled “LOVE YOU: Learning to Love Who God Made You to Be” Our study focused in on what a Christ-centered self-image looks like, and how the way we see ourselves affects our relationship to God and others. Our key verse was Psalm 139:1-16 specifically verses 13 & 14: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”
We had such an overwhelming positive response to this study from our students and their parents. The idea came from some research that revealed that the number one thing that students struggle with on a day to day basis is their self-image. So many mistakes made by teenagers today can be linked back to trying to compensate for a poor self-image. They do so many things to feel accepted and loved, and to impress other people. Each week our study lead back to the truth that if our self worth is based on anything other than our relationship with Jesus Christ, then that is not a healthy place to be.
As I prepared for these lessons and poured over the scriptures God lead me to, I began to realize that we as ministers are often as guilty as teenagers when it comes to our “ministry-image.” God began to convict my heart and show me how often in ministry I am so focused on what others think of my ministry achievements, that I forget to ask God for His opinion. As I began to think on this more and more, I sadly found it to be more and more true in my life.
As a Student Minister, I find myself often seeking the approval of my students and their parents when it comes to our Student Ministry. Did students respond to a certain lesson? Did they not respond? Do parents like what we are doing? Do they not like what we are doing? These are all questions that I dwell on far too much. What I should be asking myself is, am I following God’s leadership for our ministry. Please understand that I am in favor of constructive criticism and suggestions. I am not at all promoting a ministry attitude that says “who cares what other people think.” My point is simply that I am often guilty of letting my ministry-image be dictated by people rather than by Christ.
Another pitfall I find myself falling into when dealing with my ministry-image is the trap of seeking the attention of other ministers. I must admit that, at times, I have an unhealthy desire for my peers to see my ministries as successful. Even as I write articles such as this one, I find myself thinking about who will leave comments and what will those comments be. Constantly seeking the approval of other ministers is not healthy. And on the other side of that same coin, I must confess to coveting the success I see in other ministers. It is so easy for us to crave and desire what we see other ministers and ministries have. Maybe If we spent less time wanting what other ministers seem to have, and more time seeking God’s face and His direction for the ministry He has entrusted us with, we might just see God begin to do amazing things in our own ministries.
Having thought through all this, I have to come back to the truth that I stressed to my students during our study. If my “ministry-image” is based on anything else besides Christ and seeking to honor Him, it is not a healthy place to be in ministry.
Is it just me?