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At the Heart of It All

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

When it comes to ministry, your heart is more important that your skills or experience. If the enemy can turn your heart, the rest of the battle to take you out will be easy for him.

There is an amazing story involving John the Baptist in John 3 that reveals his heart for ministry. John was the last in the line of Old Testament prophets with a powerful preaching ministry, calling Israel to repentance at the Jordan River. He was very successful at what he did. In John 3:23, it says that the people were “constantly coming out to him to be baptized.” In fact, Jesus said of him, “among those born of women, there has not arisen anyone greater than John.”

But within the next few verses, John has to take a test…it is a test of his heart. A troublemaker shows up to taunt him and says, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (verse 26)

Well, John gave six responses to the enemy’s taunting that we all would do well to embrace:

1. “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.”

There is a huge temptation in ministry to be self-sufficient, and at least to convince those around you that you have a level of competence that  would earn their respect.

2. “You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Christ…”

It is a good thing when ministers of Jesus don’t think of themselves as the Savior of the world.

3. “I am sent ahead of Him.”

Your role as a minister of Jesus is simply to prepare the way for Him.

4.“The bride belongs to the bridegroom”

That church or that ministry of Jesus is simply to prepare the way for Him.

5. “The friend who attends the bridegroom, waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”

This is the antidote for burn-out in ministry. Our reward doesn’t come from anything other than hearing His voice.

6. “He must become greater; I must become less.”

Ministry tends to breed feelings of self-importance. We are tempted by the platform, by an audience, by money, by admiration, by affirmation…and end up feeling like we must be somebody.

John the Baptist passed the test. Do you?