The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. 

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. – Philippians 3:7-11 (The Message)

I was once a pastor.  There was a time in my life that ministry was my profession…the way I earned a living.  Some folks prefer to call it “vocational ministry.”  It was not, however, the financial benefits that drove me to succeed, nor was it even a remote consideration in responding originally to enter pastoral ministry.  The calling from God, in the beginning was clear and it was authentic.  It was what existed within me long before I accepted the call and then after I began pastoring that became my primary motivation and tragically led to my ultimate demise.

It was my own need and desire for the approval and affirmation of people that drove me to succeed in ministry.  My faulty sense of self-worth drove me to receive from others what I should have and could have only received from the One who called me into the ministry to begin with.  People began to tell me how good I was, how talented I was, how smart I was, how valuable I was, and I needed so badly to hear them say those things.  Problem was that I was none of those things apart from Christ’s empowerment and keeping.  My hunger to be embraced by people surpassed my need and desire to embrace and be embraced by the Lord Jesus.  My ministry was self driven rather than Spirit driven.  It was driven more by who I started to think I was and who people told me I was than by who the Lord said I was, and Who’s I was.

Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Philippians, that everything he once was or thought he ever could be was “dog dung” compared to simply knowing in the most personal and intimate way, the Lord Jesus Christ.  None of his accomplishments…none of his credentials…none of his education…none of his pedigree was worth holding onto once he met the Risen Lord on that Damascus Road.  It was his passionate desire to  “know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself,” that drove Paul to serve and minister, plant churches and finally to author, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 2/3 of the New Testament.  He wanted increasingly to “know” Christ, and because he wanted that so badly, he wanted others to know Him too!  That desire drove him!

Today, the Lord is preparing me to return to some form of ministry.  But this time He is continually asking me, “Why?”  First of all, why would He want me to respond again to His call (What worth does He see in me)?  Secondly, and more relevantly important, what motivates me….what drives me to obey His call again?  Can I be perfectly honest with you when I say that He and I are still working out that together?  But, here is what I can tell you for certain…over the last ten years, I have seen first hand what all of my accomplishments…all of my successes…all of my skills and talents…and all of what people say or think about me apart from knowing what God says, adds up to…… “DOG DUNG!”

Whether or not I ever get paid one dime….whether or not people think I’m a deeply spiritual and good man….whether or not I succeed or fail by worldly standards….I know Him better now than I have ever known Him before, and that knowledge of how wonderfully gracious and merciful and patient and loving my Savior truly is drives me to help others know Him too.  I am a driven man!


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June 2010
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