Monday, January 28, 2013

Desiring a Pure Ministry Unmotivated by Ego-needs

A latte for breakfast, in Nairobi
I'm now reading Henri Nouwen's The Road to Peace. I'm only 20 pages into it, and have had to stop many times just to think about what I'm reading. No wonder Tony Campolo reviews it as "a treasure chest of truth and inspiration." I have to go very slow with writing like this. There are many treasures to be held and examined. Here's one.

"It may come as a great shock to realize that what we consider works of service in the name of God may be motivated to such a degree by our wounds and needs that not peace, but resentment, anger, and even violence become their fruits. The great irony is that Satan finds his safest hiding place where we are most explicitly involved in the work of God's kingdom. The "enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat." (1 Peter 5:8)"

We must distinguish our ministry from our need to be liked and affirmed. The more our ministry to others becomes the gratification of our own ego-needs, the more that ministry becomes tainted with evil. Nouwen writes:

"Self-doubt, inner restlessness, fear of being left alone, need for recognition, and desire for fame and popularity are often stronger motives in our actions for peace than a true passion for service. These are the motives that bring elements of war into the midst of our action for peace." (12)

I want whatever ministry God has given me to be pure. The more the self is involved, the less am I free to love others with no expectations of reciprocity.