What doesn’t kill you… can make you ineffective… (guilt in ministry) + a tangent

Posted on September 7, 2007 by


I am back at school and mostly settled. I live in what the school has dubbed a “Leadership House”, it’s a school owned house that they allow students, which have invested in the school, to stay in as opposed to the dorms or on campus apartments. One of the things I love about this house is the amount of discussion that goes on. These are men who are passionate about God, life, and the student body/body of Christ. One thing that I have been talking to one guy about has been our roles as leaders. It was said once that “if you are a believer (referring to being a Christian) then you are a leader, the only left to you is how effective you will be.” not an exact quote but that’s the jist of it. That, along with some more discussion, brought to mind a truth that I heard once. “If the devil can’t kill you then he will make you ineffective.” How true. One of the ways that he does this is through guilt. Guilt can be a good thing, if it is convicting us of a sin in our life that we need to address. But that is not how the devil uses guilt; he throws it in our face and says,

“Look at this… Look at what you have done… This is who you really are when no one’s looking… How could God ever use someone like you to bring Him glory…? How could God ever want someone who has willfully disobeyed Him? Etc…”

And friends I have fought with this sense of debilitating guilt a lot. But Scripture has some beautiful and pointed things to say in response.

Romans 8:1-2

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

And later in chapter 8 Paul says

15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

This clearly states that God has removed the condemnation from the lives of those who are in Christ Jesus; we stand free from our sin in light of the work of Christ on the cross. I like to put it this way. If we are faithful to confess our sins and repent of (turn from) them, then Christ has paid the price for that sin and we are free of it. And when we feel guilt about things that we have confessed and been forgiven for, we can know that it is not of God but of the devil and has no place in our lives.

Just recently I was talking to a friend and we got to a topic very close to this. Speaking specifically to spiritual leaders/pastors/religious leaders/all people that God has called to do something; when we willfully disobey God while in leadership it can have devastating effects on our psyche and our ministry. God reserves the right to remove and/or change the calling on our lives. Even if we feel that we aren’t worthy, or even if we feel that we are opposed to the calling, God can, and sometimes will, accomplish the calling through you to His glory.

For example; look at Jonah. He was called to go and preach repentance to Nineveh, he refused. He ran away, he spat in God’s eye and said ‘you want me to do what… for whom? No! Forget that.’ but God had decided that he would save Nineveh through Jonah whether he liked it or not. Jonah was not happy about how things turned out in Nineveh, he didn’t want them to be saved, but God did.

How does this apply to what we are talking about? Well, it can look something like this. Sometimes God has decided that we were created for a certain work, and has gifted us to be able to achieve this work. But we don’t want to, because of guilt, anger, inadequacies, or apathy. But God will achieve His goals to His glory. So even if you hate what you are doing or if you think you are completely incompetent or you have displeased God more than you think a man/woman in your position should, remember God will use whom He wishes, when He wishes, for whatever purpose He deems fit. Think of Jonah, who saved a City despite himself.

Another possibility is that God is trying to get a point across, and we aren’t listening/ getting it. I know for the past few years God has been making the point that I can’t do anything without him. He seems to be accomplishing this through putting me in situations where I feel unprepared either mentally spiritually or physically for whatever ministry I need to do. And yet He gives me just enough strength to get through what I need to get through. And God is infinitely patient so if He wants to make a point, things will happen again and again and again. Don’t be discouraged; just get your act together.

It is late and I need my sleep, so I will look forward to hearing your thoughts maybe. Or just writing more tomorrow.

Posted in: Theology