A Personal Ministry Audit

I do not remember the first time I used the term “ministry audit” but, for some time now, we at the State Board of Missions have been using this approach in our effort to right-size our staff.

By early next year, our full-time staff will be 45 percent less in numbers.

Using a ministry audit for the staff and our ministries has proven to be an effective means of evaluation. Sure, there is a bit of subjectivity to the approach but this strategy, for the most part, has been an effective tool in determining priorities in ministry.

Recently, I took the ministry audit approach to my own life and ministry. One of the basic areas of this assessment has been asking the right questions.

This is something Peter Drucker and other leadership authors have encouraged us to do. It can be a painful process, but it is a profitable one.

A Question Worth Asking

Time does not permit me to discuss all the appropriate questions. However, one of the essential self-evaluative questions relates to motivation in ministry. This is the one question I would like for us to consider: “What is our motivation for ministry?” Or how do we motivate others in ministry?

We could easily say that this question is a no brainer. It is so self-evident, so why ask the question?

The answer comes when we look at our ministry as objectively as possible and try to ask ourselves personally what has been our motivation and how do we endeavor to motivate others?

Guilt

There are several poor motivators among us today that do not bring out the best in us nor bring honor to the Lord.

One such motivator is guilt. I know feeling guilty is natural and even a spiritual necessity at times, but I am not talking about conviction of sin or feeling guilty when know we have done something wrong.

No, I am speaking of what can be called “bad guilt.”

When we as leaders try to shame or blame our people into doing something we feel they need to do, then that can very easily be described as using bad guilt as a motivator.

This leads to finger-pointing and playing the blame game. This mindset can be most counterproductive.

If in our family life we are trying shame our spouses or children into what we want them to do, then we are certainly falling prey to the bad guilt approach.

In churches, bad guilt is evident too. A pastor can seek to motivate people by the “shame on you” approach. I must confess I have been “guilty” of using guilt as a motivator.

Most of the time, this approach was not well received, especially over the long term.

The bad guilt approach can go viral as much as anything else can. You can read on social media the good efforts of leaders seeking to motivate others by trying to guilt people into giving to noble cause like missions or going on the mission field.

Do not get me wrong: We must motivate people in giving, going and praying, but the way we do it needs to be Christ-honoring.

Grievance

Another motivator in our lives, which is sadly used even in our Christian lives, is grievance. I am amazed at how many mature Christians among us act out grievances in their interpersonal relationships.

Grievances are behind most conflicts in our churches. Conflict resolution is the effective way of unveiling the grievances people have toward each other.

Grievances are behind all wars. Look at the Middle East or the former Soviet Union, and you will quickly see that old grievances and unresolved conflicts between people ignite into saber-rattling and, in its final form, all-out wars. You can see it playing out right now in the hot spots around the world.

As a pastor and missionary leader, I have seen not-so-veiled grievances do their destructive work. The Devil delights in such conflicts. It becomes a major distraction in being on mission with the Great Commission.

Greed

Greed is another motivator which is sometimes evident in leaders. We can see this in secular politics, but it can be found in other places as well.

Money, sex and power have always been vices that can wreak havoc in the lives of Christians and in our churches. Paul had something to say about this issue, and his admonition is as appropriate today as any other time.

Glory

Glory — self-glory — is still another destructive motivator for ministry. When egos are out of control, then ministry for our Lord is hindered.

David Brooks, in his recent book The Road to Character, described our culture as one of self-promotion. We believe in humility, Brooks points out, but we live in this self-aggrandizing culture.

John the Baptist had the right approach when he declared, “I must decrease, He (Jesus) must increase.”

That is the way of faithfully following Jesus.

The Greatest of These Is Love

The highest and holiest form of motivation is given to us in II Corinthians 5:14. “The love of Christ compels (motivates) us.”

If we are not motivated to serve out of our love for the Lord, our ministries and our Christian lives will be ineffective and not Christ-honoring.

Remember we love Him because He first loved us. His love for us and our love for Him is the motivation of all the we do for Christ.

His love was never hidden or camouflaged. It was always revealed in His life and ministry. Our Lord has given us an example that we should follow in His footsteps (I Peter 2:21).

I hope these reflections on motivation are helpful to you because they have most illuminating for me.

I do not want to be motivated by guilt, grievance, greed or self-glory.

I want to be motivated by the love of Christ.

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention's 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, [email protected]

For questions about Dr. Lance's Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, [email protected]