WHAT DOES WORLDLINESS look like when it gets a foothold in the church? In his wonderful book, Embracing Obscurity, the author, Anonymous, paints an insightful verbal picture.
“To be a success in the local church, apparently, you need to go to school to get your bachelors, M.Div., and possibly doctorate. Then you work your way up the ranks of a church, from youth pastor to assistant pastor, and eventually to lead pastor. Once you’re on top, your job is to grow your church to a successful number. One hundred will never turn heads, so you’re encouraged to “think big” and implement a “growth strategy.” You’re going to need at least four-digit Sunday attendance to be taken seriously at pastor’s conferences. Then, once you have a few thousand in attendance and blog , Facebook, and twitter platforms, you can go on to write books. Once you have a book or two on your resume, you can speak on invitation outside your flock. If you work hard enough, you can eventually retire and enjoy all the luxuries you’ve accumulated through your hard work and revel in your five-star reputation.”
Advanced degrees, large churches, writing books, and speaking engagements are not bad. In fact, they are good things. The question is always motive. When they come to a pastor motivated by unselfish ambition, i.e. ambition for God’s glory at my expense, they are are blessing to all involved. However, when we pursue these accolades out of selfish ambition, i.e. my glory at the expense of God and the church, they are sure signs that the “whore of Babylon” has invaded God’s people.
Let’s purse these, but constantly searching our hearts for the poison of selfish ambition, eager to put it to death no matter the cost to self.