In ministry I’ve found that it’s easy to let my ego get connected with the work that I do. When the work is going well, my ego is fed and I feel good. When the work’s not going so well, I can feel like a failure. But it’s clear that my self-worth is not to be based on the results of my ministry. It’s to be based on the fact that God loves me.
In Deuteronomy, as the Israelites were on the brink of entering the Promised Land, Moses talked to the people about how they were to approach their work of occupation. In Moses’ instructions there are five principles that help take our egos out of ministry:
- God accomplishes good things, not me. “When the LORD your God brings you into the land . . . with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant . . . do not forget the LORD.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV)
- God uses me because He loves me not because of something I’ve accomplished. “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you . . .” Deuteronomy 7:7-8 (NIV)
- God uses the challenges I face to humble, test, and teach me. “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you . . . to teach you . . .” Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NIV)
- My abilities are gifts from God. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability . . .” Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (NIV)
- God uses me only because He wants to accomplish His purposes. “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you . . .” Deuteronomy 9:5 (NIV)