From Leader to Leader – Ministry’s Greatest Pitfall

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

Last week I introduced the following thought from the Spirit of Prophecy: “. . . Ministers are in danger of losing their own souls. . .” 2T 511. Some have asked why she wrote such a sober statement. Well, I have decided to continue this conversation with you. Following are the rest of her thoughts on this subject: “. . . Some who preached to others will, themselves, be cast away because they have not perfected a Christian character. In their labor, they do not save souls and fail even to save their own. . .” Ibid.

“Every follower of Christ should daily examine himself, that he may become perfectly acquainted with his own conduct. There is, with nearly all, a neglect of self-examination. This neglect is positively dangerous in one who professes to be a mouthpiece for God, occupying the fearful, responsible position of receiving the words from God to give to His people.” 2T 511.1 (Italics added).

“There is much in the conduct of a minister that he can improve. Many see and feel their lack, yet they seem to be ignorant of the influence they exert. They are conscious of their actions as they perform them, but suffer them to pass from their memory, and therefore do not reform. If ministers would make the actions of each day a subject of careful thought and deliberate review, with the object to become acquainted with their own habits of life, they would better know themselves. By a close scrutiny of their daily life under all circumstances they would know their own motives, the principles which actuate them. 
This daily review of our acts, to see whether conscience approves or condemns, is necessary for all who wish to arrive at the perfection of Christian character. Many acts which pass for good works, even deeds of benevolence, will, when closely investigated, be found to be prompted by wrong motives. Many receive applause for virtues which they do not possess. The Searcher of hearts inspects motives, and often the deeds which are highly applauded by men are recorded by Him as springing from selfish motives and base hypocrisy. Every act of our lives, whether excellent and praiseworthy or deserving of censure, is judged by the Searcher of hearts according to the motives which prompted it.” {2T 511.2}

“Even some ministers who are advocating the law of God have but little knowledge of themselves. They do not meditate, and investigate their motives. They do not see their errors and sins, because they do not, in sincerity and earnestness, take a view of their life, their acts, and their character, separate and as a whole, and compare them with the sacred and holy law of God.. . 2T 512.1

Serious food for thought, don’t you think? One dictionary defines delusions as “a misleading belief upon someone; and self-delusion,as the action of deluding oneself; failure to recognize reality”. There is another word that I would like to mention that goes along with this subject, the word: Facade: “An outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.”

Notice White’s emphasis on the two words “self-examination” and “motives”. The Lord had already told us through Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Sadly, we have a serious predisposition towards self-deception; thus, I invite you to daily take time to examine your actions, more importantly the motives that underpin those actions. As you take time to study and meditate on the Word, ask Him to reveal any weaknesses of character, self-centered motives and to guide you to experience more virtuous and worthy motives as you serve Him. I believe this daily spiritual practice would be very appropriate given our many ministry demands and expectations.

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