A lot of pastors and Christian leaders talk about loving the lost and sharing the gospel, which is a great thing. We are clearly called to have concern for the lost and to take the gospel to them. But I worry when we start to make this the primary motive for sharing the gospel. I’m convinced that this motive alone is impossible to sustain.
I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of times that I honestly just don’t. I don’t love the lost like I know I should. And I can’t work up a love for them no matter how hard I try.
In Isaiah 6, God called Isaiah to those who would never receive his message. In fact, his message would be the means God used to harden his hearers hearts and bring about His judgment. He called Isaiah to a ministry of seeming futility, where the only fruit would be the knowledge that he had obeyed God.
If Isaiah had set out in his ministry because he just wanted to love on people, he was bound to be sorely disappointed! He would have been set up for burnout. But God called Isaiah for His own glory, and it was Isaiah’s vision of the glory and splendor of God that changed his ministry and sustained him- he comes back to it repeatedly.
He would have been set up for burnout.
Whatever ministry God has called you to– and this goes for every believer– starts with seeing and knowing Him, as He has revealed Himself in His Son Jesus. And it doesn’t just start there, but the vision of God is the only thing that will sustain you.
Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever. (Westminster Catechism)
So many pastors and church leaders suffer from burnout. Many leave the ministry. Too many suffer in silence and continue on, harming themselves, their families, and their churches. They run on the hamster wheel of programs, church growth, and performance standards. But God has called us to one thing- the glory of His name. Start your ministry there, and let that sustain you. Worship is the only thing that can sustain mission, because, in the words of John Piper, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate.” —John Piper
When we talk about missions, evangelism, and church growth, the conversation must start with worship; with the glory of God. As church leaders, we need to restore an Isaiah 6 vision of God’s glory, first in our own lives, and then in the lives of our churches. Without it, we will never accomplish the mission God has given us.
Your thoughts? Have a story or experience to share? Weigh in below!