Ministerial Detox – We All Need Cleansing
Pastor Jim Herring
Rev. Jim Herring is gifted Bible teacher who ministers God’s Word in a passionate, powerful, and practical way. The focus of Jim’s ministry is to help believer’s overcome the trials of life, walk by faith, and reach their full potential in life.
Jim graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma specializing in Pastoral ministry. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Church Ministry from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas.
Jim and his lovely wife, Samantha, are the founders and senior Pastors of Abundant Life Family Church in Fort Worth, Texas. They lead a vibrant, thriving, and multi-cultural church in the heart of Texas. Jim and Samantha are also the proud parents of two children, Annabel and Andrew.
A sobering and comforting fact we learn from the Apostle Paul is: we all need cleaning.
2 Corinthians 7:1
1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
It is sobering because regardless of our position, title, gifting, or calling, we all have issues that God wants to address in our lives (Psalm 139:24-25).
It is comforting because I am not the only one with a need to detoxify my life.
A popular word in the nutrition industry is detoxification. The basic concept is our bodies accumulate “toxins” and harmful substances that exert a negative effect on our health. Detoxification is the term used to describe a process of cleaning the body from those substances so they will no longer be detrimental to our health. People utilize diets, pills, fasting, and certain liquid formulas to try to cleanse their system. The principle is: we must put the right things in to remove the “filth” in our system.
In a similar way, ministers can accumulate “toxins” that are detrimental to their own life, their ministry, and the body of Christ. God wants us to “cleanse ourselves” from these toxins so that we can remove their harmful effects.
Often ministers are proficient at recognizing the depravity in others but ineffective at spotting and correcting their own sins and shortcomings. Some of us fail to acknowledge or take responsibility for our own issues. We foolishly exempt ourselves from cleansing because of our call or position. However, the Bible is full of “called and anointed” individuals that desperately needed cleansing.
- David, the man after God’s own heart, dealt with lust.
- Samson and Saul allowed pride to rob them of their potential.
- Judas yielded to greed and the lust for power when he stole from the Lord and betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.
- James and John sought revenge and yielded to the wrong spirit when they asked the Lord if they should call fire down from heaven and consume a group of people that declined a meeting.
- Peter allowed the fear of man to drive his life when he left the company of Gentile believers when Jewish brothers showed up.
This small sampling of men should serve as a glaring reminder that we all need cleansing. If we fail to address the issues in our own life they will eventually address us!
As ministers of the gospel, we must make sure that our pride and position does not blind us from our own need to be cleansed. Jesus taught us that man has a natural propensity to easily identify the faults of others without taking responsibility for our own.
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
God wants His men and women to take an introspective look into their own lives and see what needs to be cleansed through confession and restored through a renewed mind. It takes courage, discipline, humility, and honesty to take a look into the mirror of your own soul. Unfortunately, some are not willing to look at themselves. This defiance is unscriptural, dangerous, and displeasing to the Lord. Thomas Carlyle once wrote, “The greatest fault is to be conscious of none.”
What toxins do we need to make sure we are cleansed from? What areas do ministers often struggle with? I want to share three “free radicals” that need to be cleansed from the clergy.
- Being Cynical
A cynical person exhibits a disdain for and distrust of human nature or motives. In other words, they don’t trust anyone and they are skeptical of everyone.
Obviously, this is poisonous to ministry work since we are constantly working with people. Are there people we should refuse to trust? Absolutely! Are there people that we should trust? Absolutely! The problem occurs when we refuse to trust anyone and we are skeptical of everyone.
How does the toxin of cynicism enter the life of a minster of the Gospel? Very often the “free radical” of cynicism is loosed into the life of a man or woman of God through betrayal. When we are verbally attacked, abused, and ambushed by someone we trust, it can damage our future relationships unless we resolve the betrayal.
How do we resolve the betrayal? Forgive
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
I like something Lewis Smedes once noted that expresses the liberating effect of forgiveness.
“When you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free… and then you find that the prisoner was you.”
If we refuse to forgive, betrayal will produce bitterness in our life. When we embrace bitterness and cynicism, we will severely limit our ability to minister to others on a deep and meaningful level. It is difficult to mentor at a distance.
We must choose to forgive for our own spiritual, emotional, and physical health. We must also choose to forgive so we can effectively help and develop others.
2. Being Critical
Effective ministers must be able to delineate between right and wrong. We must be able to distinguish between truth and error, right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, scriptural and unscriptural, godly and ungodly. However, if we are not careful, our healthy ability to distinguish can degenerate into an unhealthy critical nature. Instead of celebrating other gifts in the Body of Christ we can become judgmental and disparaging.
4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Notice the following translations.
4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another?
4 Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant?
God does not want us to be critical of other ministers or ministries. One of the main objectives of the enemy is to cause division and separation. He works relentlessly to separate people from God, husbands from wives, parents from children, and spiritual fathers from their sons. In addition, Satan wants to cause division and separation in the army of the Lord in order to minimize our strength and power. He wants us to fight and criticize each other instead of working together to build and expand the Kingdom of God. A divided army is always ineffective and vulnerable.
Let me share an experience I had. One day when I was in the office, I received a call from a traveling minister who wanted to come preach at our church. After we spent some time getting to know each other, he asked me a question. “Are you a seeker-sensitive church?” I responded, “Why do you ask?” The traveling minister said, “Another minister told me you were.” The accusation of being a “seeker sensitive church” was meant to be critical. They were suggesting that we did not embrace or encourage the gifts of the Spirit or the move of the Spirit. The interesting thing is the minister who told the traveling minister we were “seeker sensitive” has never even stepped foot into our church. I have never had a conversation with him about what we believe or teach. Unfortunately, this minister was simply being critical of another minister of the same family. How sad.
Over time I have come to learn that people are often cynical because of betrayal. People are often critical because of insecurities. God wants us to work together and build each other up not tear each other down. He wants us to have a complimentary and synergistic approach to ministry.
How can we “detox” and get rid of a critical nature?
- Repent for being critical or judgmental
- Catch yourself when you are tempted to be critical
- Look for the good in others
- Develop a sense of fulfillment and value in God’s work in your own life and ministry
God created you, gifted you, and called you to do His work in the earth. Make sure to recognize that there are many gifts in the Body of Christ and learn to celebrate all authentic gifts.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (Amplified)
10 As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].
11 Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages). Amen (so be it).
It is godly to celebrate the diverse gifts in the Body of Christ. It is foolish to be critical of them.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”
– Dale Carnegie
3. Being Complacent
One of the first characteristics the Apostle Paul delineates for people to be considered for spiritual leadership is desire.
1 Timothy 3:1
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
If the devil can’t cause us to be cynical…
If the devil can’t cause us to criticize others…
He will try to cause us to become comfortable and complacent.
A casual study of the life of the Apostle Paul reveals a man who accomplished great things for God. He started churches, wrote New Testament epistles, developed ministers, and conducted extensive missionary campaigns. Despite his numerous accomplishments, Paul always maintained an inner drive to finish his race. He was compelled to make the most of the ministry, gifts, graces, and anointing the Lord had given him.
Philippians 3:12-17 (NLT)
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
15 I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
16 But we must be sure to obey the truth we have learned already.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
Paul told us to “pattern our lives after his”. One of the things we can definitely learn from Paul is enduring passion and permanent perseverance.
Paul’s paradigm of ministry included the following thoughts:
- I must finish my race.
- There are more people that need to be saved.
- There are more churches that need to be established.
- There are more disciples that need to be made.
- There are more people that need to be delivered by the power of God.
While he was thankful for the ministry success he experienced, he was never content. God does not want us to be content with our accomplishments either. He wants us to fulfill our ministry, use all of our gifts, and complete the calling we have received.
I want to leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul to a man named Archippus.
17 And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
The Message Bible says it this way.
And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, “Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.”
Let’s make a commitment to do our best for God!
Let’s get choose to cleanse ourselves from cynicism, a critical nature, and complacency.
Let’s do our best in the job we have received from the Master – our very best!