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← The Subtle Danger of Idolizing Pastoral Ministry - Jesse Barrington

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Showing Revision 2 created 04/25/2018 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. What are some of the most subtle pitfalls
  2. and attacks from the devil
  3. that you can warn others about?
  4. You know, Paul said we shouldn't
  5. be ignorant of the schemes of the devil.
  6. Jesse: It seems to me there's a summary

  7. that Satan is continually working on.
  8. Now, the means he will go about;
  9. the schemes he will go about
  10. to bring us to this place are innumerable.
  11. But it seems to me it keeps
  12. getting to one point, and that is this:
  13. to get your eyes off of Jesus Christ
  14. and onto yourself.
  15. And so there are many different ways
  16. he goes about this,
  17. whether it's through
    different relationships,
  18. whether it's spiritual pride,
    whether it's in sin, temptations,
  19. but inevitably, as I talk with people
  20. or look at my own life,
  21. we come to find out
  22. there's been a shift
  23. and I'm no longer looking to abiding
  24. in Jesus Christ.
  25. And if he can get you to stop
  26. abiding in Jesus Christ,
  27. and get your eyes off of Him
  28. and onto yourself,
  29. then what John 15 says is true -
  30. without Him you can do nothing.
  31. It will just unravel very quickly.
  32. So the subtlety of Satan
  33. in so many different ways
  34. to just slowly get your eyes
  35. off of Jesus Christ.
  36. I confess last year in the conference,
  37. he did it with me in the area of ministry,
  38. where I was finding identity in ministry
  39. rather than the identity of a
    resurrected Savior in Jesus Christ.
  40. And things began to unravel.
  41. And as I would look at my life,
  42. I would say what's wrong?
  43. I'm reading. I'm studying. I'm preaching.
  44. I'm evangelizing. I'm praying.
  45. What's going on here?
  46. Well, what had subtly happened is
  47. is I no longer found my identity
  48. as a person under Jesus Christ
  49. or in Christ.
  50. It was: I'm a pastor.
  51. So it's very subtle, but usually,
  52. you'll find that, oh, I've
    taken my eyes off of Christ.
  53. Question: As you look back,

  54. how did that subtly happen to you?
  55. Jesse: Well, I began to see that I was

  56. asking of pastoral ministry
  57. what it could never give me.
  58. I was asking it to be
    my functional savior.
  59. And so you begin to put demands on things.
  60. And you can do this with your marriage.
  61. You can do it with friends, your job,
  62. your workplace.
  63. The moment you ask something to be
  64. what only Christ can be for you,
  65. then you put demands upon that thing.
  66. And it will eventually begin to expose
  67. and show, hey, you've done
    something wrong here.
  68. And so, I was asking of
    ministry to be my joy.
  69. I was asking of ministry
    to be my identity.
  70. And I was so looking for it in ministry,
  71. that I was willing to begin to neglect
  72. other areas of my life
    that God's called me to,
  73. namely, my marriage, my children.
  74. Because I'm so wanting to find joy
  75. and identity in ministry,
  76. not in Jesus Christ.
  77. Paul Washer - this has been 14 years ago.
  78. Probably the first time I
    met him or second time.
  79. He looked me in the eye
  80. and he said, "Jesse, the will of
    God for your life is perfect."
  81. I said, "What do you mean by that?"
  82. He said, "God will never ask you
  83. to forsake one area of stewardship
  84. to fulfill another."
  85. And you apply that to
    where I was at last year.
  86. I don't have to forsake my wife
  87. to fulfill my call in ministry.
  88. There are always going to be strains.
  89. There's always a constant reforming -
  90. semper reformanda -
    we're always reforming.
  91. We're always looking and examining.
  92. But you never have to forsake the one
  93. to fulfill the other.
  94. And that's a sign that we're off.
  95. Question: And I guess this kind of deals

  96. with the one question.
  97. Have you ever struggled
    with being burned out
  98. as a pastor? If so, why?
  99. And what helped you to
    get out of that season?
  100. And what did you learn?
  101. Jesse: In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says,

  102. we ask you, brothers, to respect those
  103. who toil, who labor among you.
  104. And he asks them to respect them
  105. because of the work that they do.
  106. And so I take from that
  107. that the role of the pastor
  108. is going to be one that is a toiling
  109. and an exhausting role.
  110. And that's different though
  111. than being burned out.
  112. So when we're fulfilling
    our role pastorally,
  113. we should be exhausted.
  114. And that's not wrong.
  115. The difference is being burned out.
  116. And what I came to see is
  117. I was beginning to be burned out
  118. because I was relying on my own strength,
  119. my own power,
  120. and again, I was looking to ministry
  121. to be my functional savior.
  122. And it's a very subtle change.
  123. It happens gradually over time.
  124. You know, one of the evidences
  125. you can see in this is
  126. you'll fill your schedule
    with so much busyness,
  127. that one of the things that
    will begin to slip away
  128. is prayer.
  129. And prayer always reveals pride.
  130. In other words, the more I'm praying,
  131. probably the less proud I am
  132. and the less I'm praying,
    the more proud I am.
  133. So, your prayer life is
    revealing your pride life.
  134. Your dependency upon Jesus is seen
  135. in your prayer life.
  136. And so as I began to see
  137. prayer begin to take a back seat,
  138. and as I began to look to ministry
  139. what it could never be
  140. and ask of ministry to be
    what it never should be,
  141. which is my functional savior.
  142. And I began to be
    willing to give up things
  143. to get from ministry
    what I was looking for
  144. which can only be found in Christ.
  145. And so, pastoral ministry
    in the true sense
  146. has always been energizing
  147. and exciting for me.
  148. But when you see yourself beginning
  149. to be burned out,
  150. then you are looking to ministry
    for what it shouldn't be,
  151. you're relying upon your own strength
  152. instead of the power of the Holy Spirit.
  153. Or, you've given ministry the priority
  154. it should not have in your life.
  155. Meaning, you're willing to
    neglect other things,
  156. like your wife and your children.
  157. And when you do any of those things,
  158. you're going to burn out.
  159. Because now you're in it alone.
  160. And praise God that He
    brings you to that place.
  161. Our church was very gracious with me.
  162. My co-pastor who
    pastors me and I pastor him
  163. came to me and said,
  164. brother, you just need to take some time.
  165. And so I stepped away.
  166. I went and got with the Lord.
  167. Question: How long?
  168. Jesse: It ended up being three months.
  169. That was the best and the
    hardest time of my life.
  170. Because I woke up every morning, James,
  171. with nothing to put before the Lord
  172. for His approval -
  173. in the sense of ministry.
  174. Like, look at the sermon I preached.
  175. Look at these people.
    Look at the counseling.
  176. Look at the souls.
  177. I had nothing.
  178. I woke up in desperate need
  179. of a resurrected Savior every day,
  180. and found my identity and acceptance
  181. before God in Christ alone.
  182. And it was healing.
  183. I repented to my wife.
  184. Repented to my kids.
    Repented to the church.
  185. And God has graciously
    restored me in that.
  186. And the church was so
    gracious and kind with me.
  187. And I think one of the great challenges
  188. with pastoral ministry
  189. is that when you begin to give it
  190. a wrong priority - meaning,
    you neglect things
  191. in your life that you shouldn't -
  192. and I'm not accusing anyone
    in our church of this -
  193. but it's almost accepted,
  194. because you're doing kingdom work.
  195. Where if someone was giving up their wife
  196. for the stock market,
  197. we would say, oh, look
    how impure this man is.
  198. Look how ill-motive and
    wrongly prioritized he is.
  199. But a man can do it in ministry
  200. and people will almost applaud him.
  201. And brother, it's wrong.
  202. It's wrong.
  203. So, yeah, by God's grace - three months.
  204. And we stepped away from the church.
  205. Because I knew if I was in the church,
  206. I would pastor.
  207. So we went to Mack's church quite often.
  208. We went to a few other brother's churches.
  209. We traveled some.
  210. And it was a very restoring time
  211. for the church
  212. and a very restoring time for me.
  213. So, praise the Lord.