Some time back I sat in a local McDonalds working on one of my books on a section on personal identity. I had set my iPhone to remind me to pause and be still each day at 10am and 3pm. I don’t always stop, but that day I did and read a portion of Pete Scazzaro’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day. That day Pete quoted Eugene Peterson’s thoughts about Jonah’s resistance to God’s call on him to preach in Ninevah. His words left a powerful impression on me and prompted me to ask myself three questions we leaders should often ask ourselves.
Here are Peterson’s words.
And why Tarshish? For one thing, it is a lot more exciting than Nineveh. Nineveh was an ancient site with layer after layer of ruined and unhappy history. Going to Nineveh to preach was not a coveted assignment for a Hebrew prophet with good references. But Tarshish was something else. Tarshish was exotic. Tarshish was an adventure … Tarshish in the biblical references was a “far off and sometimes idealized port.” It is reported in 1 Kings 10:22 that Solomon’s fleet of Tarshish fetched gold, silver, ivory, monkeys and peacocks … In Tarshish we can have a religious career without having to deal with God.
Did you catch the last line? “In Tarshish we can have a religious career without having to deal with God.” As I reflected on my goals and drive in minsitry, I asked myself these questions.
I encourage you to ask yourself them as well and ponder your answers.
- Where do I find my identity, in Christ or in my ministry?
- Am I driven to bigger and better ministries so I can feel good about myself? Or can I find contentment “that transcends all understanding” even in what appears to be a dead-end ministry or one without much potential for growth?
- Is my deepest motive to one day hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Or, am I driven to hear the people in the church say it instead?
Take a few moments and ask yourself these questions to see what God reveals about your heart and motives.