Church Growth

Should A Pastor Have Ambition?

Recently I took my kids to one of those indoor trampoline parks. We’ve been several times before but decided to try a new business on this occasion. When I started to pay the bill, I noticed the price was higher than the place we regularly visit. I was informed each of my children had to purchase $2 “Altitude” socks. I insisted it wasn’t necessary, but it was required, so I paid the $6.

While frustrated about the extra charge, I can appreciate a good business and don’t even mind the upsell. I don’t begrudge anyone for trying to be successful, but what I saw next upset me.

After we took the kid’s shoes off and put on their “Altitude” socks, we climbed the stairs and passed a large sign that said, “Altitude Safety Socks Required.” I laughed but really wanted to karate kick the sign.

I was frustrated because everyone knows “altitude” socks have nothing to with safety and everything to do with profit. Disguising the desire for an extra $2 from each customer under the guise of “safety” is dishonest. They should have hung a sign that said, “We know you’re gonna pay it. You know you’re gonna pay it. Thanks for the extra $2.” They would never hang that sign out of fear of offending their customers, but the truth is I wouldn’t be offended; I would appreciate the honesty.

I tell you this story because for the next 60 minutes while my kids jumped on trampolines, safely protected by Altitude socks, I thought about motives. I wondered how many areas of my ministry I used noble language to disguise an ulterior motive.

When I tell my congregation to invite their family and friends on Easter, is it truly because I want the lost to be saved, or because I want to break an attendance record. I’m sure it’s some of the both, but what’s the dominant motive in my heart?

When I preach on tithing is it because I truly want my congregation to live in freedom from greed and experience the blessings God has for them or is it because I want more margin in the church budget or a raise in my salary. Again, both motives exist but what’s the dominant motive?

Why do I want people to serve, be in a small group, or attend church? Hiding behind noble language is easy. It’s easy to use the great commission to build a case that is only partially true in our heart.

If you are a driven leader, you will battle motives the rest of your life. You will never conquer selfishness, greed, envy, or jealousy entirely; it’s a tension to be managed. I’m not suggesting you do nothing until your motives are 100% pure, I’m also not suggesting you be bluntly honest with everyone about the darkest parts of your heart, but at least be honest with yourself. Don’t say you’re trying to keep the children safe when the truth is you’re trying to make a buck.

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Jason Isaacs
Jason Isaacs

By Jason Isaacs