I recently had a conversation with my dad regarding ministry, speaking, and traveling. He has experience being a minister of the Gospel of Jesus ever since I was a child. I can remember his days a a pastor, an evangelist, an elder, a missionary, and so many other roles in the church. Even today he is a pastor in a "country church" as we like to call them here in TN.
During our conversation, he gave me one warning, and it was an odd one. He said, "Be careful, it (ministry) can become addictive!"
I found that statement a little odd, but worthy of pondering. I figured an addiction to telling people of the love of God was probably a good addiction, however, he gave it as a warning. Only recently, while reading Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning did it come more into focus.
Brennan was a very open writer of both his beliefs and his struggles. In all the books I have read of his, he has often referred to his addiction to alcohol. It was a constant source of struggle for him. Many times, in the middle of a vibrant ministry, he would again find himself alone on a street corner, drowning his sorrows in a bottle of liquor. The picture he painted of addiction is not a pretty one.
Then, in this book on Ruthless Trust, he says, "I found that I had traded in one addiction, alcoholism, for another addiction, ministry." That one simple sentence floored me and caused me to ponder. His follow up to this gave me even more to dwell on. He mentioned having traded his time "with God" for a relationship with God. Meaning, he was more interested in the next book he was reading or the next study he was doing, or preparing the next sermon he was going to wow the world with, that he was no longer simply being "with God."
I have to admit, this was very convicting. How I have wrestled with this, even with Enjoy The Shepherd. It is so easy to come up with another lesson to speak, and get so tied up in the likes, the responses, and the feeling like your making a difference "for God", that I can easily find my self no longer just being "with God." I am a man prone to addiction ( I prefer the word passion, but addiction is correct). I am prone to revel in the praises and slaps on the back by men, that I ignore just sitting still with my Shepherd. I am prone to answer the call to assist someone who has reached out and laid bare their soul to some counsel I might can provide, that I spend my energy thinking of how to help them instead of simply asking God to speak His words of life through me. In other words, I can easily fall prey to the trap of the enemy to be busy for God that I miss simply sitting at His feet.
In fact, I am so prone to this that I have realized how much I miss simply being with Him. I am so thankful that His love for me is so great that He will allow me to wallow in my "ministry" so that I can be reminded of how sweet time with Him really is. I am thankful He has allowed extreme busyness to be apart of my life recently that it drove me to a near breaking point and I was faced with the reality of how much I miss His sweet face. I am thankful for this because it never fails to draw me even closer than I was before I turned away, yet again, to the addiction of serving God and his people. Although these things are wonderful and an outpouring of being with God, is we are not careful, they can easily replace what should be our greatest addiction: