What Every Church Leader Can’t Afford to Forget

Without this, ministry will eventually end in failure.

As a pastor who’s been in ministry for over 25 years, I often get asked by younger pastors if there’s one thing that that I could tell them, one thing that I could pass on, and what would that be? And to be honest, it’s really an easy answer for me. And that is that the greatest call on your life, the primary call, is not to ministry. The primary call is to intimacy.

You see, Jesus has brought you into a love relationship with himself and more important to him than what he’s going to do through you, is what he desires to do in you.

As you look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels, he modeled for us what it looks like to live a life in dependence on the Father. Everything Jesus did, he did out of the overflow of intimacy with the Father.

Now, he was much more than a model—infinitely more. He was our substitute. He’s the one who died for our sins, rose again from the dead. But it doesn’t change the fact that he modeled for us what it looks like to live in intimacy with the Father. So much so, that Jesus said, when you hear my words, it’s not my words. It’s the Father’s words in me.

And he’s invited us into that very same kind of relationship, where you and I now—through a love relationship with him—have been born again into his family, and we get to live our lives out of the overflow of a love relationship with him.

So the greatest thing you have in ministry is not your skill; it’s not your ability; it’s not your experience; it’s not even your education. It’s your own love relationship with Jesus.

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But here’s what’s troubling for me: In ministry, it’s often our love for ministry that becomes the great love affair that woos us away from intimacy with Jesus.

Unfortunately I have a few friends who over the course of 25 years plus in ministry I’ve watched fall morally. And for every one of those men who walked through that moral failure, the testimony’s the same. They fell in love with ministry. They had a love affair with the ministry. Before they had an affair in ministry, they had an affair with the ministry that wooed them away from their love relationship with Jesus, and ultimately opened them up to every sin under heaven.

Jesus in John 15 said it very succinctly. He said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Apart from Jesus, you and I have nothing. Apart from Jesus, you and I can do nothing.

But remember what Paul said, “Through Christ I can do all things” (Phil. 4:13). Christ in me is what ministry is really all about. So don’t forget, your primary call is not ministry; it’s intimacy with Jesus.

This article originally appeared on LifeWayVoices.com and is reposted here by permission.