When it comes to spiritual things, many of us are talking further down the road than we’re actually walking.
I’ve honestly struggled with this over the years. At Revive Our Hearts we have, on daily radio, 260 programs a year. The demand for new content doesn’t stop just because I say, “Hold on, I need to let my life catch up!”
This is a struggle for me because we’re talking about so many areas of life and ministry where I’m challenging women to be right with the Lord, to be loving Him and passionate about Him. Yet on any given day, I can point to areas where I know my life has not caught up to the truth I’m trying to share with others.
Sometimes the Enemy can use that to blackmail me.
I don’t think the standard here is perfection, but rather, that we’re pressing toward living the way we know God has called us to live. We can’t be content to be teaching others truth that we ourselves have no intention of living!
I’ve heard it said that the last one to write up a will is the lawyer. And sometimes the last one to get a complete physical is the physician. Is it possible that the last ones to know they have a spiritual need could be those of us in the ministry?
I believe it was A. W. Tozer who said that the curse of the twentieth century (and it’s even more so in the twenty-first) is that we think that because we know something, therefore we have it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We know about prayer; we know about a devotional life. We know about walking by faith; we know about an attitude of gratitude. We know about putting on compassion and kindness and humility and meekness and patience. And since we know these things, we assume that we “have” them, when in some cases our lives are way behind what we’re teaching others.
We’re talking further down the road than we’re actually walking. That’s why I think it’s an amazing thing that the apostle Paul was able to say to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). In other words, Follow me.
He didn’t say, “Read my notes, listen to my messages, download my podcasts . . .” He said, “Follow my life, because by God’s grace, I am following Christ. So when you follow me, you will be following Him.”
It’s not just the life we display in public or on the platform that matters here. We can all make the necessary adjustments to be who people expect us to be on the platform.
And by “on the platform,” I don’t mean just speaking at conferences, but when we’re counseling with others, when we’re discipling others, when we’re leading a small group or a Bible study—any kind of public ministry.
We all know we’re not going to be rude, unkind, or selfish when we’re out doing ministry. But that’s not the only measurement here. It’s important who we are in private, when our public doesn’t know what we’re doing or what we’re like or who we are.
When no one else sees or knows the choices I make—where I am on my laptop, what I’m searching on the Internet, how much time I’m spending on computer games, what my attitude is within the four walls of my home or office, what I do with my free time, how I respond to my family behind the scenes … it’s who I am in those hidden, private moments that matters.
Who I am in those obscure and hidden times has a lot to do with whether I will be able to stay in the race and honor the Lord all the way to the finish line.
The apostle Paul talked to the Romans about the power of a life message. In Romans 2:21–24 he said, “You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.’’
And here’s the sad part: “As it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” You see, if we proclaim one thing and live another, those who know us best and who see the discrepancy are going to have every right to say, “I can’t believe what you’re saying. You’ve lost credibility.”
It’s our life, walking with Christ, that gives credibility to the message we’re teaching to others. Oswald Chambers said it this way: “The message must be part of ourselves. . . . Before God’s message can liberate other souls, the liberation must be real in you.”
So, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:
- Is there any issue God has revealed in His Word that I’m not obeying?
- Am I living and walking as a repenter?
- Am I quick to say, “Yes, Lord,’’ and to turn from my own way?
- Is my private lifestyle consistent with what I proclaim to others?
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has served with Life Action Ministries since 1979. Her daily audio can be heard on hundreds of radio outlets or online at ReviveOurHearts.com. This article was adapted from her series on Potential Pitfalls of Ministry, accessible here: ReviveOurHearts.com/series/potential-pitfalls-ministry.