2 Hidden Pitfalls that will Trip You Up (Do you know them?)

Pitfalls What are you called to do? Although we all have both gifts and a purpose in God’s plan, The only thing all Christians have been called to do is “make disciples.” But let me ask you: “Do you really know what you are getting into when you make the commitment to disciple?” Contrary to the suggestions of some, the Bible never equates God’s call with you life’s dream. In fact, answering the call to make disciples may rob you of your dreams. God may “call” you onto a path you never anticipated. Let me share two of the most important things that I have learned from my years in ministry. Biblically, they are the exact opposite of the worldly norm. 1.     SELF-PROMOTION I spent years trying to make sure that I was recognized for my zeal for God. I wanted to be listed beside names that others in ministry would celebrate. Is this wrong? Is it wrong to promote yourself? God answered me clearly: “Stop making heroes of men and trying to win their approval.” Andrew Schwab, in his book, Fame is Infamy, said it well: “Why does a human long so desperately to be known and remembered by other dying men?” I think of Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, Isaiah, among others who claimed that God “put the Word in their mouths” (cf. Ex 4:15, Jer 1:9, Isa 51:16, 1 Kgs 17:23). There was no place for self-promotion in their writings. In making disciples, we must take care not to replicate ourselves. While there is a time for making sure people understand who you are, our only promotional cry should be: “Jesus—promote yourself through me.” 2.     SELF-DESTRUCTION It is not good enough to simply refuse self-promotion. As a disciple, Jesus calls us to self-destruction. To become a disciple-maker—to have His Word in your mouth—there is great cost. As we surrender to God, He requires more of us. For some of us, this becomes a battle with life itself. Consider Elijah for a moment: immediately after his highest (in both senses of the term) ministry moment—fire from heaven on Mt. Carmel—he wanted to die (1 Kgs 19:4)?! Or consider Jeremiah. Sensational preachers enjoy using Jeremiah 20:9 to brag on personal passion and the Word of God “burning” inside them, that they “cannot hold it in.” But, consider the context. This is not something Jeremiah is bragging about. He is miserable over it. In fact, his desire is to quit, but he cannot. Consider two verses prior:

O Lord, you have deceived me, [i.e., you lied to me]

and I was deceived; [i.e., I bought your lie]

you are stronger than I, [i.e., I can’t fight you]

and you have prevailed. [i.e., You make me do this]

Jeremiah is possessed by angst, doubt, and anger. In fact, he curses his own birth (cf. Jer 20:14-18). These men wrestled with God. They were deeply burdened with ministry. Often when we are wrestling the hardest, it’s because we have not learned to be content in all situations (Phil 4:11), and, in fact, we are clinging to our lives. Jesus calls us to bear a cross for a reason. We must deny self and die (Jn 12:24-26). With all the sacrifice, struggle, and cost, what’s the payoff to making disciples? For me, it is to hear these words: “Well done son. Welcome home!”