I've been trying to write this blog for over two weeks now. It's not an easy one for me to write, because I have to make sure my heart is in the right place and I don't just stand on a pedestal point fingers at people. That is not what this is about. Rather, its about caring for those people who might be led astray.
Have you ever known anyone that just seemed to be out to gain recognition for themselves? I think we all do from time to time. I know it is a struggle I have in certain areas and I fight to keep it in check. Thankfully, between God and my wife, I can keep it in check most of the time.
I think because I have struggled with it in the past it is harder for me to really know how to love those who are selfishly ambitious and doesn't care. I don't think it is wrong to be ambitious, but God calls us not to be selfishly ambitious. So, when someone is so focused on themselves and knows they shouldn't be, I am lost on how to respond.
In James 3:16: it says "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." and in Galatians 5:19-21 it says: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness,
carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I
have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
These passages do two things for me. First, it gives me hope. It says they are deeds of the flesh. This means that God can give us power over them. He has designed it so that we don't have to fall victim to our flesh rather we can overcome the flesh and live in the spirit. Secondly, it lets me know there is a reason I have an inner struggle with people who come across selfishly ambitious.
In the midst of our "political" season, its very easy to see people who are selfishly ambitious. They want fame, recognition, and power. I know there are some out there who do it for the right reasons, but because most who are don't play "dirty" its very hard for them to actually become elected.
The selfishly ambitious want people to see them and so many give little thought to God and His teachings. When was the last time you heard a candidate openly talk about his relationship with God and how it impacts his decisions? For me, I just hear....I did this, and I did that. This is how I voted, and this is how he voted. I will do this and I will do that; not once do they mention trying to do what they believe God wants them to do.
Unfortunately, this issue is not just limited to politics, but it infiltrates our daily lives. What is even worse is that it can infiltrate our churches. I say worse, because not only is it not of God, but we already have a hard enough time getting out of the way so God can work that one person being focused on themselves and trying to gain can be devastating for what God is trying to do. I know God has the power to do anything, but just as there are false teachers in the Bible, we have false teachers today. Personally, I believe when we become selfishly ambitious it is hard for us not to be false teachers, if not by words, but by our lifestyle.
I feel like I can spot this attitude from a mile away. Typically it is an attitude that is more focused on doing bigger, better, and greater verses letting God do His will. (I am not saying that bigger churches that do great things are wrong. I think God can take ordinary people and do some great things and will even help churches grow in size.) When I look at what Christ taught, nothing says bigger is better. He is constantly teaching how we must become less so that God can become more. The selfishly ambitious want to become more and want God to make them great.
Their personal lives and life outside church reflects that same attitude. They always have to live a life of bigger and better. They WANT what they WANT and God is just what they do on the weekends. (I know God blesses people with things, so having things is not the problem, but rather the heart and desire behind wanting the things is the problem.)
As I mentioned last week, I was able to spend some time with some great friends of mine over Labor Day weekend. As I was around them, I could just feel God in the midst of our conversations. It was if God was blessing me through the conversation and He was teaching me. He was showing me. He was letting me know He was there.
I have had different relationships with pastors over the years and yet, only a handful of them have a I actually felt God's presence in the midst of the conversation. Now, I know its not about feeling, but when God is present, you just know. I don't know how to explain it other than you know. I think the opposite is also true. When we are getting in the way of God, we hinder others from seeing God. When we are so selfishly ambitious and trying to make ourselves more, God has no where to go in our lives but to become less.
What I really want to say is, we have to be careful of our attitudes and our motives. When we are in leadership positions in a church, people want to respect and follow that leadership role. I know I've been around a lot of pastors in different capacities and when their heart is not right, I really struggle being able to trust and follow them. I want to go with them in their journey of helping others to see Christ, but I can't. It is impossible to follow someone who doesn't know the way and make it to the destination. Personally, I can't follow someone who is leading me to themselves, and I don't think others can either.
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV