I’m Addicted To Porn

img_0140I have a confession to make right here on the blog.  I’m addicted to pornography.  Not the pornography you might be thinking of, but quite honestly as a pastor it might be a worse kind.  I’m addicted to ministry pornography.  I’m in recovery for sure, but there is still a pull in my heart to get sucked back in.  What is ministry pornography?  It is looking at another church or ministry and imagining what it would be like to “have what they have” or “do what they do” or “be who they are.”  It’s subtle, it’s addictive and it’s dangerous.

Ministry pornography is a plague in the church.  I’ve heard it from our own team and I hear it in other leaders all the time.  “If we could only be as big as that church.”  “If we only had a building like that church.”  “If I only had the influence of that pastor.”  “Why can’t we do that?”  “I wish we had those lights, that staff, those kind of volunteers or that ministry budget.”

Back in 2008, I heard Ed Stetzer say this at a pastors conference:  “A conference like this can easily become ministry pornography!  What does that mean? You view unrealistic pictures of a ministry you are never going to have.  Most of you will never experience ministries like the ones you’ve seen today, and if you do, it will hurt more than you ever dreamed and you will struggle more than you ever thought.”  WOW!  

I don’t know if the lure to lust after other ministries ever goes away, but just like physical pornography can be overcome, so can ministry pornography.  Here are three things to remember before you start lusting after what another ministry or leader has.

1.  When you focus on what you don’t have you will lose sight of what you do.

This is one of the things I struggle with as a pastor on “low attendance Sundays.” I don’t know a pastor who doesn’t struggle with it.  Holiday weekends, the freak snow storm or normal ebbs and flows of life can cause attendance to fluctuate in the church.  I used to dread preaching on low attendance Sundays, and quite honestly it still is easier to preach to a full room than an empty one, but God really did a work in my heart on this.  I remember the Sunday that I was already prepared for the “empty room.”  I was lusting after the lure of a ministry with a packed house when God spoke to my heart, “If you’re focused on who is not here you’re going to miss who I brought today!”  I needed to repent and I needed to recalibrate my heart.  We’ve said this as pastors before, “No one is going to be here today!”  Really?  I’ve yet to meet a pastor who had a zero on the attendance sheet.  Even if fewer people come than last week there are still people, real people with eternal souls that God brought you to serve that day.  Serve them well.

2.  When you long for what someone else has you might miss what God wants to give you.

God may not want you to have what THAT church has down the road or across town.  God’s vision for your church may not be the vision He gave THAT church.  God has something to give you and it’s uniquely meant for you.  When we long for what someone else has it’s very easy to pursue that same thing for us.  If God wants you to have it then He is the one that needs to bring it.  Multiple times in my life I’ve gone on “ministry fasts.”  When I start seeing this mindset creep back into my heart, I stop listening to other pastors, watching other church services or even reading their blogs.  I am a church junkie.  I love learning from other great leaders around the country, but even in my learning I can easily begin longing for what someone else has and in the process I will miss out on what God wants to give through me.

3.  When you believe your missing out you’re in danger of missing God.

This might be the most dangerous one of all.  As we start looking at what other churches have, other leaders have, other pastors have, we can start to believe that “God’s holding out on us.”  “I’m as good of a preacher as that guy, why don’t I have a church like his?”  “Our people are just as generous as those people, why didn’t God bless us with a facility like theirs?”  There are countless scenarios in ministry that can cause us to believe that God is holding out on us.  That for some reason, God’s making us miss out on what someone else gets to use for the mission.  The only problem with that thinking is we will end up missing God!  When I believe God is holding out on me than I will begin holding back from God.  I distance myself from the ONLY one who can do anything of value in my ministry.  This was the sin of Adam and Eve.  The sin didn’t start with the bite of the fruit, it started when they believed that God was holding out on them.

 

 

 

Jeff Maness

I am a follower of Jesus first, husband to a beautiful wife, father to four amazing children, lead pastor of Element Church in Cheyenne, WY, and blogger of all things life.

Comments are closed.