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Motivation Matters

When it comes to ministry – motivation matters.  When I felt the call to ministry years ago my motivation was rooted in my love for the Lord and the desire to please Him by serving his people well.  After preparing for ministry and being called as pastor in my first church, I continued to be motivated by the same reasons.  I soon learned that it wasn’t enough.  I tried my best to help the congregation God appointed me to serve – to fulfill the Great Commission.  They were good people, but my ministry had some difficult moments and I struggled to lead well.  I was frustrated and they were too.  A turning point was when I revisited the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matt. 22:37-39). Trying to accomplish the Great Commission without fulfilling the Great Commandment is exhausting.  I loved the Lord and wanted my church to faithfully make disciples, but I had to come to the place of realizing that I didn’t love the congregation like I should. They became problems rather than people needing a loving shepherd committed to knowing, loving, feeding and protecting them.  I had to repent of my pride of loving myself and learn to love my neighbor (in this case my parishioners) better.  Doing so changed the trajectory of my ministry and my level of fulfillment.  While serving God’s people can still be frustrating, leading out of a motivation of love makes all the difference.  Our motivation truly does matter. – Dr. Gary Mathes