The Enemy Within

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

“There is something dark and deceitful that still lurks in the heart of every one of God’s children who has not yet been fully gloried: sin”  (pg. 108)

I remember the restlessness I felt after graduating from college at age 22. I couldn’t wait for life to begin.  I was ready to cash in and live the American Dream!  As you can imagine the road to success was not linear.  In truth, from my 22-year old vantage point, it felt more like Cormac McCarthy’s post- apocalyptic story “The Road,” than the road to success.

In my frustration, I remember calling my mother lamenting to her about my disappointments day-in and day-out and day-in and day-out until one day she directed to me Matthew Chapter 6.  To my surprise I read Scripture telling me not to worry about the desires that consumed my thinking, but rather I should seek first the Kingdom of God.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Wait, how would this strategy work? I have to say, at the time my mother guided me to this text, I felt she simply didn’t understand what young people wanted out of life.  She didn’t understand. I mean I had worked hard; I’d followed the roadmap, and now where was my treasure?

Paul Tripp says, “We’ve been designed by God to be value-oriented, purpose-motivated beings. God gave us this capacity because he designed us for the worship him.”

So, you may be thinking, what does this story about 22-year old looking for a payday have to do with me, a spiritually mature person of God?  After all, isn’t this child-like pursuit of validation, identity and tangible rewards the issues of those we counsel, those who sit in our pews, those living “out there” in the world?

Paul Tripp reminds those of us in pastoral ministry,  “Whether or not you are conscious of it or not, your words and actions in ministry are always your attempt to get out of it what’s valuable to you. First, in pastoral ministry it is very hard to keep what God says is important, important in your heart. What always happens to each one of us is that things in ministry rise in importance way beyond their true importance, and when they do, they begin to command our desires and shape our behavior.”

Beware of the encroachment of the kingdom of self in ministry.  We start out sure of our motivations, but self has always competed with our Lord for the throne of our lives. Therefore, we must daily remember the treasure we seek, we have already received – the salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our ministries must be “shaped by Christ-centered, grace-driven treasures of heaven.”  We must fervently and continually recognize our own need for God’s grace, and the deceitfulness of our own hearts as we fulfill this dangerous calling.