(This content was originally posted at thepalmerperspective.com.)
Last week I shared with you 2 of the 5 Truth Tests for Discerning the Spirit. Today I reveal one more truth test that will help you in understanding whether or not you are being led by God’s Spirit or something else.
- You give God the credit.
“Great job today.”
“You are just what this church needed.”
I just completed my first year of ministry at the Littleton Church of Christ so I still get compliments (But really, the Littleton Church is very encouraging and way more supportive than I deserve). I have found that I receive compliments best when I simply say “thank you” and then thank God in their presence for His gift of encouragement through His church.
There is a lot of pressure put on pastors to deliver exceptional sermons, provide conscientious pastoral care, steward the budget and be creative/innovative visionaries. Under this kind of pressure there will always be a growing temptation to take credit for any perceived or measurable success the church obtains. If you choose to take the bait of taking the credit, then a potential toxic byproduct is that you will not own up to your mistakes.
When things go well you take the credit. When they don’t God gets the blame. We don’t say, “it’s God’s fault” when there is not measurable success. We Christianize it by saying, “It’s not God’s timing.” We also move the goal posts and say something like, “God wants us to be faithful not fruitful.”
How do you feel tempted in your vocation to take the credit away from God when there is success and passive aggressively give Him the blame when things aren’t going well?
When you, as a servant leader take the credit, churches and organizations may be led to believe that they cannot be healthy without you. A fallacy is formed that says they will never be the same without you. If you drink deeply from this well you will abuse your power, never choose to replace yourself and view ministry staff and other churches as your competitors. And guess what, your ego will still be thirsty.
The apostle Paul had to be disciplined in how he received praise. He was also diligent in instructing the Corinth church on the dangers of choosing to give praise to men and not to God. They were taking pride in who their preacher was. Some said, “I follow Paul.” Others, “I follow Apollos.” Yet others, “I follow Christ.”
Is it wrong to say, “I follow Christ”? Yes, when you are putting Him in direct competition with His servants. Yes, when you are choosing to use Him as a way to divide the church instead of uniting the body.
Paul made it clear to them that both he and Apollos did not compete against each other – they complimented each other. I once had a preacher tell me that we needed to make adjustments in our service programming so that we could compete against the growing churches in town. I disagreed with Him. I can also sadly say that he is not the only person I have met that shares this same church growth philosophy.
When you choose to give God the credit you will choose to collaborate.
Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
Any minister or servant leader has been given their position by God. Paul and Apollos were the means, not the cause as to why the Corinthians believed.
God alone produces the results. He makes the seed grow. He alone gets all the credit.
If you feel the urge to brag, brag on God.
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!” 1 Corinthians 1:31
Why do you want to start another church? Why do you want to lead a non-profit? Why do you want that promotion? Why do you want to run for public office? Why do you think you are being called to ministry?
When you have the Spirit and He is in charge, God gets all the credit.
If you are taking all the credit, then it is possible that you are not being led by the Spirit.
Stay tuned for next week’s post where I will share the last two truth tests for discerning the Spirit.
What other truth tests should be included in this list?