People in full-time ministry have transformed most of our lives in a direct or indirect way. Whether it was your youth pastor that took you out to coffee weekly or a stranger in the mission field that inspired you to help the poor through social media. A lot of good things happen because of those who choose to give their lives to serve others and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, being in full-time ministry has its disadvantages. Below are a list of negative habits that Christians can fall into, especially those in full-time ministry:
1. Isolate yourself from non-Christians
Playing it safe and avoiding non-Christians can bring some temporary protection for you and your family; but in this day and age, you will never be able to fully hide from the “evil outside”. Even if you do, social media and the internet make everything accessible and difficult to avoid. So, instead of playing “safe” and hiding, It is crucial to be in touch of what is out there and set a standard through open conversations on what is healthy and what is not. It’s one thing to set boundaries to avoid compromise and it’s another thing to hide comfortably around other Christians. They will know we are Christians by our love; that love is hard to show if we choose to be in isolation. Jesus was very clear that we are not called to hide but we are called to walk in the light and to stand in the midst of darkness and shine.
2. View Full-time ministry as a greater calling
Whether you are preaching to millions or scrubbing the floors of a coffee shop, In God’s eyes, the pay is the same. It’s about being faithful and excellent to what has been given in your hands. Unfortunately, many of those in full-time ministry are only doing it because they think doing anything “secular” is a lesser calling. This may lead them to not see a God-given opportunity for a potential career shift, or a business idea that can go hand in hand with the ministry. We must redefine what full-time ministry means; If you are a nurse helping someone in pain or an entrepreneur with a business that brings in finances to the kingdom and creates an uplifting atmosphere at work, you are in “full-time ministry”.
3. Over-Spiritualize Everything
When you are in full-time ministry, you tend to see everything from a spiritual perspective. Questions such as “Am I hearing God clearly?” and “Is this an attack from the enemy?” can become daily inquiries that cause us to make everything spiritual. If the cashier in the grocery store is being rude, the immediate assumption is that this must be “demonic” rather than giving that individual the benefit of the doubt and seeing it as an opportunity to love and encourage them. If you get a speeding ticket, you assume it’s the devil warring against you rather than just learning to be more careful while driving and have it as an opportunity to trust God more with your finances, etc….
4. Get Into Arguments on Social Media
Before you make your next statement on social media, you should pick whether you want to win the argument or win the person over. The Bible is meant to bring healing to the hurt not a whip to the lost or confused. Using scripture verses to push your theology and political views on social media rarely ends with good outcomes. Typically, others will feel shut down by your verses and get more hurt or even offended at the Bible and God. So, before you “correct” or “rebuke”, consider taking that friend out for coffee, listen to them, sympathize, and only when you earn your right to be heard, share with them a better alternative. We see Jesus doing that with the woman at the well. He listened, he asked questions to get her thinking, and he shared the happy news; He brought light to the darkness and she left the conversation a new person.
5. Become Passive
Being content and being passive can look similar but they are very different. For many full-time ministry positions (not all), there are not as many hard deadlines and it becomes harder to measure the progress. A lot of times this can lead into lethargy and a lack of vision. We use terms like “I am waiting on the Lord” or “Whatever God wants” as an excuse to not be active, make clear goals, have expectations from ourselves and others. It’s crucial to surround ourselves with others that can hold you accountable and to give yourself clear goals and plans for your work, personal life, and finances. If your ministry lacks that, consider starting the conversations with others and put systems in place that will help you and others be more active, focused, and productive.
6. Look Down on Higher Education
There is a growing trend among Christians, specifically those in full-time ministry, to look down on higher education. Even though our schools and universities are teaching things that do not align with the Christian faith, the worst response we can have is to avoid it all together. We are suppose to do the exact opposite: Listen and learn about those different beliefs and figure out what we believe in and learn how to challenge those false ideas. Otherwise, we become irrelevant and ignorant arguments about evolution, abortion, homosexuality, etc. that are weak and lack any logical, historical, or scientific verification. It becomes evident to others that we don’t actually understand what we are talking about. In addition, if we want to see change for the better, we need more believers in the congress, hospitals, and schools.
7. View Money as Evil
The love of money is the root of all evil; but, money in itself isn’t. If you are working as a servant to money, that’s evil. If you are learning how to make money serve you, that’s wisdom. The truth is, money is power. Money can bring clothes to the naked, food to the hungry, and the good news to the lost. If the topic of having more money makes you uncomfortable, you may be embracing a false poverty mentality. Throughout scripture, we see God blessing and entrusting money to many that loved him; Joseph is a prime example. It is important to have an open dialogue with God about money and learn to identify opportunities where you can gain money; which is power to bring positive impact to your family, community, and those who are in need.
BONUS: Choosing a Silly Name on Social Media:
If you put your identity in your full-time ministry job, it starts showing off real quickly. Let’s make it clear – No one thinks it’s cool when people start changing their names on Facebook to “Pastor John”, “Beloved Ashley”, “prophet Michael”, having your name in Hebrew, or changing your name all together to Hepzibah, ChildOfGod, or Esther – Even if your intention is pure or you are simply excited about what you do, not only is it not cool, it can make you appear religious and unapproachable.
What other habits in the full-time ministry culture do you think are negative?