If I’m not attending or leading a Bible study then I’m at a prayer meeting. Or at a youth service. Or at an event. Or at a leaders meeting of some sort.
And the list can go on.
There have been some weeks I told myself it would have been better for me to just spend the night at church because there was no point of coming home for a few hours.
When I was younger I used to think that the more time I spent at church-related functions the closer to God I would be.
The more “spiritual’ I was.
And now that I’ve been in ministry for ten years I can see how far from the truth that is.
For me personally often times all it shows is not how much I love Jesus but how much of a religion our relationship is becoming.
In fact, if I might be bold enough to say I think there have been times in my life when ministry stopped being something I did out of an overflow of love for Jesus and a heart willing to serve but because it became an idol to me.
It became something I found my identity in.
Something that if taken away from me, I wouldn’t know who I would be without.
It’s easy to point out people’s worldly idols that consume their time, efforts, and energy.
Idols such as possessions, jobs, or relationships.
But it’s hard to see that ministry could be an idol.
We are often blind to “religious” idols because after all, how can going to church, serving in a ministry, or attending one more planning meeting be bad?
In and of themselves they are not bad.
They are all helpful in our spiritual growth and walk with Christ.
But the problem comes when we use them to replace God in our lives.
When we get so busy doing things FOR God that we forget to spend time WITH God.
Sometimes we are confused about what we consider idolatry because we imagine it to be a statue or an image we bow down to just like in the Old Testament days (and even now in different parts around the world.)
But all it really is is anything that can replace Jesus in our lives.
And sadly, even ministry can fall under that category.
I think the enemy is very sneaky in this regard.
He knows he’s not going to tempt me to go to the bar on Friday night and get me away from Jesus that way but I can be tempted to be at church every single night of the week doing good things… and yet get even more distant from Jesus with each day.
I am like Martha, serving away in the kitchen (in my case, the church) to prepare something for Jesus while the whole time I am ignoring Him.
I’ve caught myself in this trap often.
I’m so busy preparing Bible study lessons for my small group that I don’t even spend time one on one with God simply reading His Word for myself.
I’m so busy planning lessons to teach my teens on Sunday at church about spending time with God to actually spend time with God myself.
I’m so busy planning and participating in events with the goal to encourage others to draw closer to Jesus when in the busyness of planning I am stepping even further and further away from Him.
The irony is not lost on me.
The very things that were meant to draw others to Christ were the things that were drawing me away.
All of these things are good and right and worth doing.
But even in ministry, I think there is a limit of what you can do before it become merely a religious idol.
If you are in ministry you know it becomes an idol with it replaces your time with God.
When it gets in the way of ministry to your own family.
When it consumes your life to the point that you start getting burned out.
We need to stop putting serving God above God Himself.
I think serving is good and that every believer plays a vital role in the local and global body of Christ and that no one should be a benchwarmer whose only commitment to church is to come and warm up the seats on Sunday morning.
We all have something we can contribute by serving those around us and we should serve at church.
We should attend planning meetings to come up with new ways to bless the community.
We should go to prayer services to encourage one another in prayer.
We should attend Bible studies to grow in Christ through His Word.
We should use our talents and gifts to expand the kingdom of God.
But none of these things should be done at the expense of our relationship with God.
You need to know that (unless you are a pastor or minister paid by the church to be there) you should not be living at the church.
You need to have at least one free night or two to simply enjoy time alone with God or your loved ones.
Time when you are not worrying about your next planning meeting, your next event, or your next lesson.
I wish I could be in every ministry that the church offers.
I would do youth, and teen, and children’s ministry, and ushering, and worship (well… they would kick me out of that one pretty quickly since I can’t carry a tune to save my life) 😉 but you get the point.
I don’t have it in me to sit still and do nothing to serve and sometimes it feels out of place for me to show up to church and not be teaching my teens or greeting church members at the entrance that day.
But I have learned that I can’t and I shouldn’t do it all if I want to serve Christ effectively with my life.
Because I need to have moments like Mary where I simply stop doing and just sit still at the feet of Jesus and be ministered by Him.
My challenge to you is this: if you are a Martha and you find yourself living at the church and serving others then make time to be like Mary this week and spend time alone with Jesus doing absolutely nothing but sitting at His feet.
If you are a Mary and all you do is spend time alone with God and reading His Word then learn from Martha and get up and learn to serve others around you in some way. Every member of the church is vital to the growth of the body of Christ and if you don’t contribute to it in any way then it might cause some parts to suffer.
Never forget that you need a balance of both serving and being served lest your ministry becomes an idol to you.
Be blessed and continue ministering to others faithfully and spending time alone with God. -Anna… ♥
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”-1 Peter 4:10