This is an article written by a young minister friend of mine with wisdom beyond his years. It is a works-saving word that contains the real heart of the Lord. Read it reverently and let the Spirit of God take you into the Refiner’s Fire.
Godly Ambition and Elder Care
I have a confession. I want to be Great. I want to serve Jesus with all that I am. I want people to know that I serve God alone, whether it brings fame or ridicule. I am ambitious for advancement in the Kingdom. I have tried to study and build a base of knowledge and contacts, created a resumé of sorts for all kinds of Christian activities and experiences that someone may find valuable, secretly wanting to be recognized for my contributions to the kingdom.
This is all a great snare and a stumbling block to me, and the Lord batted me over the head to get my attention. Now, having ambition and wanting to be great are natural to the human condition, and there is nothing odd about it. The Bible itself speaks of it and God engenders our sense of destiny and greatness by unlocking everything needed within us to make our lives count for something, to give what the world cannot – ultimate meaning.
… but for a long time, I have had things very backwards and distorted. When I was an occultist, I sought power and greatness also. When I became a Christian, the greatness that Christ offers and the power of the Holy Ghost became tantalizing, so much so I became a sort of modern day Simon Magus.
It is a common enough teaching in the Church, to go up, you must go down. Jesus says in no uncertain terms “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matt. 23:11. But in the church-world at large, it still seems that the greatest among us have gotten there by being great in the same worldly fashion, the rewards the same worldly rewards, the honor given is the honor the world gives. And regardless of what the Scripture says, the example that I have seen lived out before me in so many instances has been to seek to climb the ladder, sell your gifts, build your resume.. and then you can become great.
Now, let me tell you what God has shown me.
It was said by the early Christians: “Unless you make what is right left, and what is left right, what is above into what is below, and what is behind into what is in front, you will not learn to know the kingdom.”
We know the kingdom of God is contrary to every way of the world. Let me tell you that the things the world exalts ought to be shame to the believer, and the thing that the world shames ought to exalt the believer.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-25
I have been working in a nursing home for 7 years caring for the elderly. I make only as much as I require. I have been tempted to be ashamed of my work because it has some dirty business in it, because I’ve been there for much of my working life and I occasionally receive comments like “so you’re still there, huh?” I understand the implications and what it looks like. People tell me things like “Dan, you’re so smart, why don’t you go finish your degree and do something for real? Be a teacher or something.”, or “So are you gonna be a nurse or a doctor?”, “Still just preaching at the prison?”
My secret thought has been, “C’mon, Lord… I thought I’d be promoted by now too…”
This has been my great sin – either become successful in the world, or successful as a minister.
But let me tell you my friends, the Lord has blessed me and exalted me already far above what I deserve, because He HAS NOT made me great in any worldly fashion, nor given me any worldly honor, nor have I received any great thing at the hands of men for any of my religious activities…. but RATHER, He made me in the form of a servant, given me the task for lo, these 7 years, to care for those who cannot care for themselves. He has graced me with an environment where I must persistently put myself under for others.
I must be patient with residents that are impatient. I must be kind when they hit me or swear at me. Because of memory loss, I must answer the same question 40 times a day by the same person, each time as if it were the first.
I have been put in a situation where people are dying and seeing their last days and understanding the implications of a life without God. I get to tell the answer. I get to hold people’s hand as they pass and prepare their cold shell after they have gone. I deal with the hurt families as they see their loved ones declining. Because the God of all comfort has comforted me, I may comfort others – both the infirm of body and broken in heart. I have been put in an environment that is HIGHLY EXALTED in the Kingdom, which is perfectly conducive to creating and maintaining spiritual growth. I am blessed beyond measure.
I should have seen it sooner. The Lord has said, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”
So I have confessed to you a great sin I’ve had. But I have repented. I will not go down in the kingdom to go up in the world. I will not be ashamed of my profession no matter what people may say, because God has given me a tremendous honor to serve a forgotten, poor and powerless people. If that will make me forgotten, poor and powerless also, so be it. For I am written in His Book, I have riches in heaven, and His strength is made perfect in weakness.
May He do with me as He wills. I won’t complain or yearn any more. If I work in a nursing home for another 60 years I will not gripe against Him one bit. I’m not even just submitting to Him in obedience; I am recognizing what I truly have. If He gives me another assignment in ministry, I will do it graciously and humbly. But I will not strive with the world’s means to attain God’s ends. No resume can gain me what has already been given to me. I am already in greatness.