Attempting to be successful in order to feel loved.

I am currently doing the Mission Shaped Ministry course and on Monday the session was “Spirituality for Mission”. I really felt that I got a lot from the session – just thinking about a few things that I really ought to apply to my own life. A model of Jesus’ ministry was given to us (I can’t remember what the source for this was as it was only quickly mentioned). It’s something like this:

He knew that he was accepted and loved by God and was secure in this > This gave him his purpose and sustained him > The purpose gave him his mission > He was able to achieve what he had come to achieve.

However all too often the model that we work on is something more like this:

We try very hard to achieve and be successful at something > This need and want gives us our mission > Our mission allows us to have a purpose (but is unable to sustain us) > So that, if we feel we have been successful, we may get a glimpse at being accepted and loved.

For those of us that are more activist and want to do (I very much identify with this) it is a particular temptation to work in this manner, we just want to get on with something and be practical. However this isn’t a model that can sustain us and will lead to burn out. It is much better to work on knowing and accepting that we are loved in order to give us our purpose, mission and (hopefully) achieve. And it is important to remember that Jesus’ ministry perhaps didn’t look successful in some ways, only a handful of followers who didn’t exactly stand by him when times got a bit rough. Maybe we are being successful without even realising it.

Perhaps this is part of the reason that so many people who are someway connected with ministry find that they get “burn out”.

And of course this doesn’t just relate to a Christian’s relationship with God but in all of our relationships – we want to do well to impress our parents, and feel secure in their love when they praise us. We feel the need to work hard and do nice things for our partners – only partly because we want to do it for them, but also because we hope it will secure their love for us. When in fact they love us whether or not we do these things for them (I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do nice things for people but just, perhaps, check our motives).

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