The culture in ministry today is obsessed with making an impact. There is something so beautiful and holy in our desperation to serve God well and leave the world a better place than we found it. We want to change the world, and we are setting out to do that—on mission trips, at school, everywhere we go.
However, I have realized something by being immersed in this culture. As I listen to my friends in campus ministry grow more and more excited about the mark they are leaving on the world, I realize something that makes me uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time ignoring it, refusing it, pretending it wasn’t there. That’s how we are with sin, sometimes.
What is your motivation for making an impact?
Why do you want to change the world?
When I first asked myself these questions, the answers came quickly—to make the world a better place through ministry and His word, to follow God’s plan for my life, to help people. However, a quiet voice poised one more question.
Who are you really trying to glorify by making an impact?
The Sunday-School answer is, of course, Jesus. Yes, campus ministry is designed to glorify Jesus Christ, because He is the reason we are here, He is the reason we are performing acts of service and acts of love to minister to the broken, the helpless, and the needy. He is the reason we are all in campus ministry. Isn’t the aim to glorify Him with everything we do?
Unfortunately, I have learned my motives are not occasionally so true and so pure as I might think. Often, I want to glorify myself and my ministry by making an impact. Sin has a way of twisting our intentions and motives in ways we don’t notice at first. It begins with tangling thoughts like “People should notice all the great stuff I’m doing”, “My ministry deserves so much more recognition”, and “I deserve to be noticed” into our purest intentions.
All of a sudden, we’re caught in a dangerous whirlpool of pride, jealousy, and fear. Suddenly, our entire worth as ministers, student leaders, and people is caught up in the number of people who are grateful to us (not God), the public declarations of gratitude on Facebook, and the likes and followers of our churches and ministries online. We want people to notice us, to like us best, to only want our help. Those once pure intentions have turned into a pride-centered obsession, where all we care about is people thanking, noticing, and loving us best.
How to be a Vessel
Let’s be reminded that we are vessels, merely the means to achieving a greater good. That greater good will always be Christ, His purpose, and His design for our lives and our ministries. I am merely a vessel, through which God’s love comes to the people around me. Any good I do is only because I follow Christ and His spirit is within me.
It is amazing the weight that lifts from your shoulders when you are not constantly concerned with being the best. I become free to love people well, not counting them like numbers on a list of people I’ve changed through the most successful and best ministry of all time. I am free to follow Jesus, because pride is not hindering every step I take.
Life is so much fuller when you are glorifying Christ, instead of measuring your worth in compliments, likes, and thank you notes.
Let’s loosen the chains, and examine our motives as leaders and students in campus ministry.
Callie Hyde is an honors student at Baylor University. She writes for a blog called Sincerely, Callie (www.sincerelycallie.com) and is part of Baylor Spiritual Life’s Freshman Retreat, a small group leader at Highland Baptist Church, a Green’s Scholar, and co-creator of Open Book, a group for Baylor freshmen that encourages fellowship and faith with other Christians seeking mentorship and friendship.