As we were about to finish day three of our two week module for the Wheaton Graduate school with 25 students from 8 nations which includes South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, USA, Singapore, UAE, and a creative access nation, our professor Ed Stetzer ended the day talking about our role as pastors based on Ephesians 4:11-12.

We are called to equip the saints to do the work of ministry. He then lists down typical reasons why pastors don’t equip much. The following reasons were:

Job security

He focused on the topic of ministry idolatry. Idolatry is when we make a good thing the ultimate thing. And according to Tertullian:

“The principal crime of the human race … is idolatry. For although each individual sin retains its own proper feature… they all fall under the general heading of idolatry… all murder and adultery, for example are idolatry for they arise because something is love more than God – yet in turn, all idolatry is murder for it assaults God, and all idolatry is also adultery for it is unfaithfulness to God. Thus, it comes to pass, that in idolatry all crimes are detected, and in all crimes idolatry.”

Not all idolatry is carved stones of primitive people.
When idolatry drives us, idolatry dominates us.

If idols are not made with carved stones, what then are they made of in this day and age?

For the pastor, it may be:
– praise of people over pleasing the Father
– the value of career over faithfulness to Christ
– fear of failure over trust and obedience
– professional performance rather than personal devotion

How can we tell if we are prone to committing ministry idolatry?

1. How much of my contentment is connected to the tide of my ministry influence?
2. Do my prayers reflect that I am more thankful for the salvation God has provided for me or for the ministry He has given me?
3. If I had to choose, which would I prefer: a closer walk with Jesus, or a more “effective ministry?”
4. If my ministry were suddenly taken from me, would I still rejoice that my sins are forgiven?
5. Do I seek God only for His blessing and direction or do I also seek God simply for Him?

These are heart piercing questions and they are worth asking ourselves every so often.

May the Lord grant us the desire for Him alone, passion for His Word and love for the things that He loves.

Recently, Forbes magazine and other tech magazines report that iPhone loyalty has gone down.

I’m no technology expert nor a leadership guru but I do have an observation I’d like to make.

This is the mistake we often make. When we build an organization around one leader, what happens when that charismatic, amazing, remarkable leader is gone?

But when we build an organization with dozens of amazing nameless leaders, the organization continues to grow without the one celebrity leader.

I realize that there are many reasons why an organization can take a downturn. But this is a major one.

This can be true with cellphone companies as it is true with ministries and churches.

That’s what we see in the book of Acts. The gospel continued to advance with ordinary people in the frontlines.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Listen to what Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great…

“…Our problem lies in the fact that our culture has fallen in love with the idea of the celebrity CEO. Charismatic egotists who swoop in to save companies grace the covers of major magazines because they are much more interesting to read and write about … This fuels the mistaken belief held by many directors that a high-profile, larger-than-life leader is required to make a company great. We keep putting people into positions of power who lack the inclination to become Level 5 leaders, and that is one key reason why so few companies ever make a sustained and verifiable shift from good to great.”

Ultimately, especially in a spiritual organization, there’s only one heroJESUS.

Something to think about …

Something to remember…


We proclaim a message with the power of God to change people, but we can’t even change ourselves. We call others to perfection, as Jesus did, but our lives are full of imperfection.

We must shepherd like the Shepherd though we’re just one of the sheep.

We seek to make Christ increase (though he’s invisible to human eyes) as we seek to decrease (though we stand in plain view week-by-week).

We say numbers don’t matter, but long for many to be saved. We labour to grow the church, even though we realize each soul increases our accountability before God.

We try to express the Infinite and Eternal in 45 minutes or less; obviously we fail, so we try again next week.

We spend our lives studying a book that we’ll never fully grasp and we labour to explain it to a people who can’t understand apart from the work of a third party. The more we study, the more certain we become of the wisdom of God and our own foolishness; and yet we must preach on.

We are told that not many should be teachers and that there will be stricter judgement for those who are, and yet, we cannot fight off the compulsion to preach.


We call people to something they can’t do, with an authority that is not our own, and then at the end of our lives we give an account to God for the souls we pastored.

We are called to toil in the word of God and in prayer; yet there is nothing our enemy opposes more actively.

We work to build a community where people are connected, while occupying an office filled with temptations to isolation.

We preach a gospel of joy, but preachers are hard pressed with temptations to depression.

We must preach with passion but pastor with patience. We must be gentle with the sheep and fierce with the wolves. And we must somehow discern the difference.

We must plead with people to repent and believe all the while knowing that it is God who must save. We plead with God in prayer until our wills align with his. We must earnestly seek the presence of the Spirit, knowing full well that he moves where he pleases.

We must labour with all of our strength but never, ever trust it.

We are paid to satisfactorily do a job that never ends: When have I studied enough? When have I prayed enough? When have I mentored enough? When have I counselled enough? We who are never finished are called to lead others to rest in the finished work of Jesus.

Ultimately we labour and long for results that we can never achieve. Being a pastor is a lifelong journey to a place of utter dependence.

This is strange work, being a pastor. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

(taken from

I tucked my kids to bed tonight.

We usually have devotions before they go to bed.

Our topic tonight was making major decisions.

I told them that in life, they will be making 3 major ones.

These are the 3 that I told them.


Will you serve Jesus, self or the devil?

Joshua challenged God’s people, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).

This is the first and most important decision you’ll ever make.

And this is one decision you cannot keep putting off.  Remember, not deciding is a decision. You’ve decided not to accept Him into your life. We are either for Him or against Him.  There’s no middle ground.


I told my kids that they will have to make a decision how they’ll serve Jesus.

It doesn’t necessarily mean being in full-time ministry as a pastor or a missionary because you can serve Him wherever you are – in athletics, the arts, banking, insurance industry… as in WHEREVER.

Serving Him is not a matter of location but posture of the heart.


I told them that this will be a million years from now. Haha!

But I did say that they will get married one day and making this decision of with whom they’ll serve Jesus with is a critical one.

So I laid my hands on them and prayed for their future spouses – that as early as now, God would prepare the person they’ll spend the rest of their lives with as much as God is preparing them too.

But again, that will still be a million years from now.

You might remember this line from the movie Apollo 13. The space craft was in the verge of disaster and so were the lives of the astronauts inside it.

It was in this framework that Dr. Howard Hendricks mentioned the problem in leadership we have in the church.

There is a lack of leadership in the church that eventually spills out into society.

The greater problem he presents is that unfortunately, we have people who are in positions of leadership yet one thing is lacking – CALLING.

Houston, we really have  BIG problem.

Dear leaders, this is a moment for us to assess why we are where we are today.  If we are in ministry today because we don’t have anything else to do or we feel stuck because we thought this is what we were supposed to do and realized we while be somewhere else, then something has to change.

We need to ask ourselves certain questions.

1. Do I remember a specific moment when God clearly spoke to me about His call in my life?

I don’t mean an audible voice like with Moses and the burning bush. I mean a real sensing in your heart that you just know it was God who was speaking to you.

Career is what you’re paid to do. Calling is what you’re made to do.

2. Do I still have the fire as I used to have?

Passion is hard to explain yet easy to spot. You just know.

Bill Wilson once said, “If people don’t know what your passion is, then you probably don’t have one.”

3. Do I know where I’m headed?

No one really knows exactly. Abraham left Ur without really fully knowing where he was going. However, there was a sense of direction and confidence that I am going the right way.

Vision. Passion. Direction.

If we have none of that, then we need to go back to Houston for some recalibration.

I had the privilege of listening to Stephen Mansfield as he spoke to Victory pastors all over the Metro. His message was on the Signposts in the looming crash of a leader.

Here they are my notes on that talk.

1. View of authority became isolated.

They begin to set themselves apart. They isolate themselves.
The beginning of isolation starts from view of authority.

2. Lost connection with friends

Trusted friendships of transparency.
Your fans will get you killed. Your fans will overlook your mistakes.
Accountability groups don’t work. Walk closely with other men.

3. Relationship with God became mechanical.

No passion. No heart transformation.
We trade our relationship with Jesus for ministry.

4. Lost the poetry of what they get to do.

Heart becomes cold. Moral decline follows.

5. Having no fun.

Men need beyond work. Life after work.
Planned of distraction.
Rest. Family time. Planned distraction.
Lack of manly release can be translated to another I’m not supposed to be with.

6. Schedule had become a tyrant.

Leads to resentment
Leads to burn out.
Leads to secret time. Then moral failure.
No reason why we can’t be happily busy.

7. Men and women exchange roles.

Women are more superior in all ares except in Abstract thought and aggression.

8. The home life is opposition or demand.

Wife is the ball in chain. The dragon lady.
When this sets in, destruction looms.

9. Defining episodes from the past.

Nixon: abused in high school came up during watergate scandal.
The soul has a memory like an elephant.

10. Ministry had to be perpetuated at all costs.

The ministry on the pedestal.
Ministry becomes one of your ‘kids’.