Check your motives (Philippians 2:3)

I am back. But to begin with, I thought I would repost an old article and encourage you to join me for a moment of self-examination. I am convinced that done badly this can of course turn into naval-gazing and be unhealthy. But now at the beginning of a new season, is a good time to pause for a moment:

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Stop. Whatever you are doing right now, just stop. I know you are probably busy but you can spare five minutes can’t you? Ask God the following question “am I doing anything out of rivalry or concept? Please show me.”

What about that promotion you applied for at work? Are you thinking of the good of the company? Do you honestly feel you can contribute at that level? Or are you seeking to advance your career selfishly, oblivious to the fact you may be being promoted to your level of incompetency? Have you considered the effects on your family if, by taking on a role not made for you, you are fired in a few months? How would you feel if someone better than you got the job instead?

What about that ministry at church? Notice I didnt call it YOUR ministry. It’s not. Are you serving in the way you are because your gifting meets like a glove the need of the people? Or are you serving because you somehow managed to squeeze yourself like a square peg into a round hole? How would you feel if someone else was found who could better do your role? Would you feel insecure and angry or would you be confident that there must be a more suitable role that you can serve in?

Are you on some kind of “Christian leadership ladder” in your imagination? Do you hope for a steady rise to the so called top. Or are you perhaps longing for a meteoric climb? Are you simply serving time at the moment hoping to build your credentials for a future launch to run your own church? Do you secretly despise the leader you currently pretend to follow? Are you using him so one day you can strike out on your own?

Are you sure that your desire to church plant has been put there by God? Do you think you have all the answers or are you humbly seeking Gods help? Were you surprised when someone suggested it was time you lead? That could be good if it is a sign of humility. But it could be bad if it means that God has never stirred your heart with a godly ambition. Are you actually following the call of man or the call of God?

And Pastor, what of the growth of the church God has entrusted to your care? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Do you feel envious of a church growing faster or bigger? Or do you feel superior to one growing slower? Why do you want the church to grow? Is it so that you will look good or is it so God will be glorified by souls coming to know him and worship him as Lord?

It is only as we spend time on our knees being examined by God that we can know the true answers to these questions. Truth be told, all of us have mixed motives at best. Many of us start out as young guns, full of a cocksure confidence that often goes with youth. Those challenging circumstances you face may be Gods way of taking the wind out of your sails. God knows I needed him to do that for me. Has he broken you in as a man might a wild horse?

The irony is, when God truly humbles a man, taking away that sense he can conquer the world with no one helping him, it is then that the man is fit for service. Do you feel weak? Then God can make you strong! Do you exclaim like Paul “who is worthy for such a task?” Then God can qualify you! Do you lack wisdom? God will give it to you. Do you feel alone? God will give you those to serve alongside or under who he has specifically designed to cover your inadequacy. Not everyone is built to plant a church as the top of some pyramid. Far more are called to serve a leader in an existing church. Or, if indeed called and equipped by God to start a new work, to do so under the direction and support of another wiser leader.

If these words have hit a raw nerve in you, they are not intended to make you give up. Though, if you are doing something God never designed you for, a change of direction may indeed be the best thing, as quickly as possible. But perhaps, as God convicts you of independence, you may be able to still do the role you have, but with a different attitude. Perhaps you can find a godly leader who can shepherd your soul. Perhaps you can find a vision bigger than your own to gladly support. Perhaps God will take a humbled almost broken you and use you as a tool in his hands for the advance of his kingdom and his glory.

Will you join me in praying “God, test my heart. Weigh my motives. Purge me of any wrong desires for my glory. You know my heart. You know that even tho my ugly pride rears it’s head from time to time, I have determined to follow you and seek your glory. Make me a tool in your hands. May I bring honour to your name. May I serve you with true humility. And as you advance others may I rejoice that the cause is strengthened. Thank you for dying even for this most ugly of my sins. Thank you for your resurrection power that is given to me that I might be free! Help me to find my identity in you and to cease striving.”

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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  • Jeanetta Chrystie

    Thank you for this post, Adrian. I am referring my leadership students (Judson University, Elgin, IL) to it as a resource. I agree that mixed motives are often the case, even when we strive for pure motivations. Which, of course, doesn’t mean we should quit trying (Matthew 5:48).
    I’d like to add that verse 4 is also helpful in interpreting and applying the principles of Philippians 2:3 to our lives and leadership practices.


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