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The Subtle Danger of Idolizing Pastoral Ministry - Jesse Barrington

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    What are some of the most subtle pitfalls
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    and attacks from the devil
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    that you can warn others about?
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    You know, Paul said we shouldn't
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    be ignorant of the schemes of the devil.
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    Jesse: It seems to me there's a summary
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    that Satan is continually working on.
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    Now, the means he will go about;
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    the schemes he will go about
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    to bring us to this place are innumerable.
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    But it seems to me it keeps
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    getting to one point, and that is this:
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    to get your eyes off of Jesus Christ
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    and onto yourself.
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    And so there are many different ways
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    he goes about this,
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    whether it's through
    different relationships,
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    whether it's spiritual pride,
    whether it's in sin, temptations,
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    but inevitably, as I talk with people
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    or look at my own life,
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    we come to find out
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    there's been a shift
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    and I'm no longer looking to abiding
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    in Jesus Christ.
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    And if he can get you to stop
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    abiding in Jesus Christ,
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    and get your eyes off of Him
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    and onto yourself,
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    then what John 15 says is true -
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    without Him you can do nothing.
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    It will just unravel very quickly.
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    So the subtlety of Satan
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    in so many different ways
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    to just slowly get your eyes
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    off of Jesus Christ.
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    I confess last year in the conference,
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    he did it with me in the area of ministry,
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    where I was finding identity in ministry
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    rather than the identity of a
    resurrected Savior in Jesus Christ.
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    And things began to unravel.
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    And as I would look at my life,
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    I would say what's wrong?
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    I'm reading. I'm studying. I'm preaching.
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    I'm evangelizing. I'm praying.
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    What's going on here?
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    Well, what had subtly happened is
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    is I no longer found my identity
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    as a person under Jesus Christ
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    or in Christ.
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    It was: I'm a pastor.
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    So it's very subtle, but usually,
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    you'll find that, oh, I've
    taken my eyes off of Christ.
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    Question: As you look back,
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    how did that subtly happen to you?
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    Jesse: Well, I began to see that I was
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    asking of pastoral ministry
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    what it could never give me.
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    I was asking it to be
    my functional savior.
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    And so you begin to put demands on things.
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    And you can do this with your marriage.
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    You can do it with friends, your job,
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    your workplace.
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    The moment you ask something to be
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    what only Christ can be for you,
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    then you put demands upon that thing.
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    And it will eventually begin to expose
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    and show, hey, you've done
    something wrong here.
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    And so, I was asking of
    ministry to be my joy.
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    I was asking of ministry
    to be my identity.
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    And I was so looking for it in ministry,
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    that I was willing to begin to neglect
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    other areas of my life
    that God's called me to,
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    namely, my marriage, my children.
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    Because I'm so wanting to find joy
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    and identity in ministry,
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    not in Jesus Christ.
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    Paul Washer - this has been 14 years ago.
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    Probably the first time I
    met him or second time.
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    He looked me in the eye
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    and he said, "Jesse, the will of
    God for your life is perfect."
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    I said, "What do you mean by that?"
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    He said, "God will never ask you
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    to forsake one area of stewardship
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    to fulfill another."
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    And you apply that to
    where I was at last year.
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    I don't have to forsake my wife
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    to fulfill my call in ministry.
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    There are always going to be strains.
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    There's always a constant reforming -
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    semper reformanda -
    we're always reforming.
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    We're always looking and examining.
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    But you never have to forsake the one
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    to fulfill the other.
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    And that's a sign that we're off.
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    Question: And I guess this kind of deals
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    with the one question.
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    Have you ever struggled
    with being burned out
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    as a pastor? If so, why?
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    And what helped you to
    get out of that season?
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    And what did you learn?
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    Jesse: In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says,
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    we ask you, brothers, to respect those
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    who toil, who labor among you.
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    And he asks them to respect them
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    because of the work that they do.
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    And so I take from that
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    that the role of the pastor
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    is going to be one that is a toiling
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    and an exhausting role.
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    And that's different though
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    than being burned out.
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    So when we're fulfilling
    our role pastorally,
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    we should be exhausted.
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    And that's not wrong.
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    The difference is being burned out.
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    And what I came to see is
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    I was beginning to be burned out
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    because I was relying on my own strength,
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    my own power,
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    and again, I was looking to ministry
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    to be my functional savior.
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    And it's a very subtle change.
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    It happens gradually over time.
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    You know, one of the evidences
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    you can see in this is
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    you'll fill your schedule
    with so much busyness,
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    that one of the things that
    will begin to slip away
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    is prayer.
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    And prayer always reveals pride.
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    In other words, the more I'm praying,
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    probably the less proud I am
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    and the less I'm praying,
    the more proud I am.
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    So, your prayer life is
    revealing your pride life.
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    Your dependency upon Jesus is seen
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    in your prayer life.
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    And so as I began to see
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    prayer begin to take a back seat,
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    and as I began to look to ministry
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    what it could never be
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    and ask of ministry to be
    what it never should be,
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    which is my functional savior.
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    And I began to be
    willing to give up things
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    to get from ministry
    what I was looking for
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    which can only be found in Christ.
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    And so, pastoral ministry
    in the true sense
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    has always been energizing
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    and exciting for me.
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    But when you see yourself beginning
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    to be burned out,
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    then you are looking to ministry
    for what it shouldn't be,
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    you're relying upon your own strength
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    instead of the power of the Holy Spirit.
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    Or, you've given ministry the priority
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    it should not have in your life.
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    Meaning, you're willing to
    neglect other things,
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    like your wife and your children.
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    And when you do any of those things,
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    you're going to burn out.
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    Because now you're in it alone.
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    And praise God that He
    brings you to that place.
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    Our church was very gracious with me.
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    My co-pastor who
    pastors me and I pastor him
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    came to me and said,
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    brother, you just need to take some time.
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    And so I stepped away.
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    I went and got with the Lord.
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    Question: How long?
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    Jesse: It ended up being three months.
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    That was the best and the
    hardest time of my life.
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    Because I woke up every morning, James,
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    with nothing to put before the Lord
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    for His approval -
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    in the sense of ministry.
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    Like, look at the sermon I preached.
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    Look at these people.
    Look at the counseling.
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    Look at the souls.
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    I had nothing.
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    I woke up in desperate need
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    of a resurrected Savior every day,
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    and found my identity and acceptance
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    before God in Christ alone.
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    And it was healing.
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    I repented to my wife.
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    Repented to my kids.
    Repented to the church.
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    And God has graciously
    restored me in that.
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    And the church was so
    gracious and kind with me.
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    And I think one of the great challenges
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    with pastoral ministry
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    is that when you begin to give it
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    a wrong priority - meaning,
    you neglect things
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    in your life that you shouldn't -
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    and I'm not accusing anyone
    in our church of this -
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    but it's almost accepted,
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    because you're doing kingdom work.
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    Where if someone was giving up their wife
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    for the stock market,
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    we would say, oh, look
    how impure this man is.
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    Look how ill-motive and
    wrongly prioritized he is.
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    But a man can do it in ministry
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    and people will almost applaud him.
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    And brother, it's wrong.
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    It's wrong.
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    So, yeah, by God's grace - three months.
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    And we stepped away from the church.
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    Because I knew if I was in the church,
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    I would pastor.
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    So we went to Mack's church quite often.
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    We went to a few other brother's churches.
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    We traveled some.
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    And it was a very restoring time
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    for the church
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    and a very restoring time for me.
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    So, praise the Lord.
Title:
The Subtle Danger of Idolizing Pastoral Ministry - Jesse Barrington
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Video Language:
English
Duration:
08:44

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