It is imperative that we as Christians examine our motivations for the actions we take throughout our daily lives. For example, why did you come to this blog to read this article? Is your motivation to support this site? Maybe, to try to learn? Curiosity? Or, perhaps something else altogether? Another illustration, what is your motivation for going to work? Is it to support your family? To glorify God by using the skillset you have developed over years at the same craft? I suppose it may even be a mixture of all of these things, or maybe something completely different. My point is that we need to know why we do the things we do, take the actions we take, and speak the words we utter in conversations. When you spoke to that family member about how they offended you the other day, was it to seek their restoration and benefit or to promote or vindicate yourself? When you think about going overseas on missions is it to glorify Christ, or because it has always been a dream of yours to travel to different areas of the world?
There are a lot of ways that we could come at this topic, but I think we are given quite a bit of help in the book of Philippians. Paul wanted to send Timothy to the Philippian church because Timothy would be “genuinely concerned” for their welfare (Philippians 2:20). It is imperative we have a true concern for the church and not an insincere one or a concern which is self-centered. Our chief aim should be to glorify Christ and build up His church. Paul didn’t want to send any of the others because he had no one else like Timothy who would go with this type of genuine concern (2:20). When we look at the church and serve the bride of Christ, we must not do it with an attitude of gaining for ourselves, but instead to bring praise and honor to the One we serve and to increase the progress and joy in the faith of the believers (1:25).
One of the reasons that Paul wanted to send Timothy to the church at Philippi was because he was concerned for the interest of Jesus Christ (2:21). It is crucial that we understood this fact as Christians, church leaders, and pastors. The verse says, “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (2:21).” Whenever we are ministering, are we doing so out of a motivation to magnify ourselves or the name of Christ? Is it to make our own ministry more public, or to proclaim Jesus Christ? Sometimes a minister of the Gospel will become an individual remembered throughout history, like the Apostle Paul for example. However, this certainly was not Paul’s objective, he did not have the ambition to be famous in the eyes of the world, rather he was focused on faithfully serving Christ and glorifying Him. This faithfulness is what he commends Timothy for in this passage, and it is something we should seek to imitate as well.
It is a sad thing to see a minister, or a Christian, who is striving for his own interests instead of for those of Christ’s. We must all check our motives and see what is the driving force behind our ambitions? Why are we doing the tasks which we undertake every day? For self-aggrandizement, or Christ magnification? For self-justification, or Christ glorification? Let me ask future pastors reading this article a question, when you finish preaching, is your first thought to see how you did in terms of how you managed to entertain those listening? Or is it to evaluate whether you communicated the text accurately, clearly, and passionately for the glory of Christ? Are you more concerned about how you looked, or how Christ looked in your sermon? He is the all-glorious One, and as such people should be so in awe of Him that they forget about you as the pastor.
Is your goal to be one of the most widely known pastors ever? If so, then please check your heart, because while we should certainly strive to be a sharp tool for use in the Master’s hands, and study diligently to prepare, ultimately it shouldn’t matter to us whether Christ places us for use in a congregation of 5 people in the midst of an unreached jungle, or among a church of 10,000 people in a thriving metropolis. Wherever He sits us down, wherever he plants us, let us faithfully serve him there, with a goal towards glorifying our Lord, and pursuing His interests, and not our selfish purposes!
Now, let me direct my questions away from those going into the pastorate to all Christians. Do we have the attitude to selflessly serve others? Paul says this, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).” We should faithfully serve with a motivation to build others up in the faith. That was Paul’s goal in serving others, it was to increase their “progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:24).” We must strive to serve, not from a heart which wants to take and build our own kingdom, but from one that wants to build up the kingdom of Christ for His glory. Let us not act like self-serving kings, but rather give all in service to the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
So, where do you find yourself? Are you serving from a heart that is completely devoted to Christ and focused on building His kingdom? Or, is it more from the purpose of building up your own name in pride? Perhaps, you find yourself being fully motivated by serving Christ, then at times falling back into sin and being passionate for your own glory. I can honestly say that for me, I still have work to do here. I am certain that by God’s grace I do serve from a heart motivated to magnify Christ, but I am also certain that when I give into the flesh I do things out of selfish ambition as well. Consequently, I reach the conclusion that we are individuals in need of much grace, and we serve a God who gives an abundance of grace to us in Christ. We must look to Jesus Christ, and see the example that He gave and follow it. Let us look intently into the mirror of Scripture and see where we fall short and what needs to change to be more in submission to God’s Word. Let us pray for God’s help, and ask for His wisdom, and let us be open to the critique and wisdom of our families and friends in this area.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”