To say that God is the most important would sound cliche, but hear me out, He really is.
But the people have not returned to Him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day. — Isaiah 9:13-14, NIV.
I’ve spent 3 years contemplating about ministry and how things ought to be. I’ve also dived in to help a Christian non-profit organisation in their operations as their advisor for a little over 2 years now. Now, I’ve joined another Christian ministry full-time for over a year now. It doesn’t sound quite long in terms of career and the like, but by the grace of God, God had opened my eyes to see the many faces of ministry and how Satan is working so hard to break every part of it.
The Christian non-profit that I’ve helped had a very sound goal of church-building and discipleship. In its initial stages, it aimed to build a home or a community of believers so that they may have a safe space to live, to work, and to grow together. In its original blueprint, they aimed to have a landed-property where believers can come together to live together, a place to work together, and a place to fellowship together. In order to do this, they formulated plans to educate believers on skills like entrepreneurship and craftsmanship. They have also created programmes like free-childcare services in order to give working parents (especially those struggling financially) peace of mind when it comes to juggling their children’s needs.
Sounds good. But it all came crashing down when financial woes hit the ministry. Due to the poor management of finances, funds were often misappropriated, stolen, or used in places where they aren’t supposed to be used. Sure, they needed to seek God for wisdom to manage, manpower with the appropriate skills to serve, and a heart for God to do their best. But the thing was, they didn’t. At least, the management didn’t. Our hearts break when we (as outsiders) see the ministry drifting away from its intended aim. What’s worse, there were times when our advices were faced with negative responses. There were even instances when they even twisted our words and badmouthed us.
I think I am beginning to understand what Paul was feeling when he wrote, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Timothy 4:14, NIV). Our hearts break for their souls for they know not what they are doing.
Less than 3 months after their change of heart, they are on the brink of collapse. Though they’ve raised over RM 40k worth of funds in less than half a year, they are plagued with the inability to pay their bills. Though they’ve amassed an abundance of resources, they are plagued with insufficiency.
So what’s the problem? Did they seek God? Can’t say they didn’t. So what went wrong?
They didn’t listen to the voice of God. They forgot their first love. They’ve forgotten their calling. Their lampstand has been removed. They’ve lost their influence and the fame they’ve built. They’ve lost it all.
This isn’t the only story I’ve heard. Countless other ministries and churches out there are on the brink of collapse because they’ve lost sight of their calling. Their hearts have left the Lord; their eyes have turned away from their first love. Sure, their goals are good and their strategies may sound logical. But they did not seek the Lord. What they have set out to do may not be what God intended.
In an earlier post entitled, “are we secularising God’s ministry?” I wrote that by identifying who the battle belongs to, we’d know who will provide all that we require to fight the battle that lies ahead of us. Likewise, knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord will enable us to put our ministries into perspective.
So what is most important? God.
Moses knew this principle really well. When Moses was in the wilderness after the Golden Calf incident, we see Moses holding onto God with this exact mindset. Moses said to God, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:15-17, NIV).
Will we hold on to what’s most important in life? Will we hold on to God?