I am thinking of starting a new support group for folks addicted to ministry. The introductions would go something like this: “Hello. My name is Jane and I am a ministry whore.” The name of the group would be Ministry Whore Anonymous.
Whoa. Did I really just say that?
Yup. And all 12 steps are applicable.
I give you that I am may be a bit over the top with my terminology, but it really hits home with me. I am no longer a ministry whore, but I have been. If you are even a little bit active in a local church you probably know at least one person who fits into this category. These are the people who seem to be involved in everything. The ones who are always frazzled because of the amount of time they spend in ministry because they are the ones who “get things done.” So people often go to them to ask them to do other things because as the adage goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. But I am hoping the term “ministry whore” will hit home with some of you out there in the blogosphere just as it did with me. Whether you are one of the ones putting out or one of the ones soliciting service, no means no. After all, if someone can’t respect your no, your yes is really worthless.
Many times this kind of behavior is justified as being “sold out for the kingdom” or a “Jesus freak.” And sometimes this is true. But it seems like many other times it is a twisted sort of “indulgence” that we use as penance to secure our place in the kingdom and earn God’s good will and approval. We build a sense of pride in the ministries we participate in or lead. Our identity becomes more dependent on what we are doing for the kingdom than on the one who established that kingdom.
It was helpful for me to realize that Jesus told people “No.” He told his disciples no, he told his family no, and he told those who wanted to follow him no. And there were no apologies. The only person Jesus didn’t say no to was God the Father. Profound. Jesus often failed to meet expectations. He walked away from expectant crowds without telling anyone where he was going, he failed to free Israel from the Romans, he failed to be the messiah the Jews wanted him to be, he failed to do as his parents expected him to. But he never failed to do God’s bidding though he sweat blood under the pressure of that burden.
For those of you who have read Boundaries by Townsend some of this will be familiar. For the rest of you, I highly recommend this book. And remember, no means no.
Photo by: b.fhram