5 Ministry Destroying Myths

[From the archives.]

Most people have had one, and that means you can relate to this list of “5 Career Myths That Could Be Holding You Back”. I’ll quote each myth and show how it applies to your spiritual life as well.

“Myth 1: There is one perfect job for you out there, and you better hope you find it.”

Here’s one that comes up all the time for Christians, because many believers are under the mistaken notion that there is the one right job, or the one right spouse, or the one right house, or the one right fill-in-the-blank. You know what? There’s not.

It reminds me of a story a speaker told at a conference I attended. He once had someone ask him to help discern which job offer God wanted him to accept, and the speaker said it was as if the guy thought God would answer, “Well Chicago’s fine, I can make it to Chicago, but don’t pick Omaha because that’s just too far for me to go with you!”

If you want a handle on God’s will for your life, I’ll let you in on it:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.)

There are other verses like this and none of them have anything to do with making a decision about something specific in your life, so don’t get caught up in thinking that if you choose one thing over another it means you are out of his perfect will forever.

God’s perfect will is about Christ living in you, not you living in Chicago.

“Myth 2: Once you’re settled in a career path, you’re stuck.”

Let’s say you do pick that job in Omaha and find out it’s really not a good place to be. Then you’ll probably start looking for a job elsewhere. Fine. (I’m sure Omaha is very nice. This is just an illustration, folks.)

Same thing goes with making decisions in your life with God. Are you serving in a ministry that has turned out not to be a good fit? Are you saying to yourself, “I thought helping in the nursery was going to be great, reading stories and rocking babies to sleep. But poopy diapers make me puke. Literally!”

You’re not stuck. There’s plenty to do in God’s kingdom. Find something else.


“Myth 3: You should choose your job based on the skills you have.”

In ministry, there are times we need to know our limitations. If there’s a bulletin announcement about the music team needing a guitarist and you’ve never strummed a chord in your life, perhaps that’s not the role for you. But God overcomes limitations all the time.

Look at Moses. He thought he was unqualified to lead God’s people out of Egypt, but God had news for him. It was God who was going to do the leading, and Moses needed to be ready for God to use him when it happened.

You may find that serving in the kingdom of God has nothing to do with using the skills you have, and everything to do with the fact that God is using you anyway.

“Myth 4: Do what you love, and the money will follow.”

In ministry terms, this would equate to seeing success in your ministry. But God doesn’t promise that we will see what comes from our kingdom work. He does promise, though, that as we abide in Jesus we will bear the fruit he desires to produce through us. (John 15.)

What does it mean, then, to do what we love? It means to love Christ, abiding in him and trusting that his fruit will follow whether we see it or not.

“Myth 5: If you want to make a lot of money, get your MBA.”

Many well-meaning fellow Christians (and some not-so-well-meaning ones too) will insist that if you read this book, or watch that video, or attend some particular seminar, then you can’t help but have a successful ministry. Well, you know who was well-equipped?

Paul. He studied under Gamaliel, one of the premiere thinkers in first century Judaism. Then he was mentored by Barnabas, one of the most effective workers in the early church. Then he had years of ministry experience to build upon.

And toward the end of his life, he found that all of this was nothing compared to the one thing he knew was really important: Christ.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. (Philippians 3:7-8.)

That’s no myth.


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20 Responses to 5 Ministry Destroying Myths

  1. “God’s perfect will is about Christ living in you, not you living in Chicago.”

    Well, that’s a relief… 😉

    But seriously, this is so important for us to grasp hold of. I have come to realise that God is primarily concerned about our communion with him wherever we are, or whatever our circumstances.

    • Tim says:

      Our communion with God is a good way to look at it, LL. God wants us with him and promises to be with us always, no matter where we live or what job we have or any of those other aspects of our lives.


  2. Michael says:

    Tim, the last two points are interesting in the sense that it has Uber relevance today. I’ve said before on Twitter, “Church” has become an enterprise endeavor, the selling of material, giving, clamoring to be in the public eye so the appeal to $$$ naturally follows. Look at Matt Chandler’s present situation: He made and is making really bad choices but will not, it seems, make the harder but Scriptural choices (ergo, REALLY disciplining one of the boys) for fear of the cash flow being interrupted. So, if one is really concerned about doing the will of God, do the basics that please God and God makes things bigger, so be it, but don’t make it YOUR driving force…”success” isn’t measured in budget or head count.

    • Tim says:

      The idea of not making our ministry success our driving force is helpful, Michael. Our focus should be on Christ, not ministry success.


  3. janehinrichs says:

    Tim, This is so good! That promise of success one that so many buy into is so in the church — so in everything. Thank you for this list. As my husband prepare to move to a different part of the state for ministry reasons this list is exactly what we need to read.

    • Tim says:

      Jane, I’m praying for the transition for his ministry. Perhaps you’ll let us know how it goes with a blog post at your place?

      • janehinrichs says:

        I will! For sure! And thank you for the prayers. They are much needed. We know that we know that we know God is leading us to Dupree, SD. We have a lot of details yet that need to unfold but we know God’s got it.

  4. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for these helpful reminders, Tim. They apply in so many areas.

  5. It’s so hard sometimes to not feel overlooked, or as if life has passed me by. On the other hand, from a God-centred perspective, nothing of my life is wasted because I belong to Him, and Jesus makes it quite clear that living small is the real aim of the game. It’s just hard, sometimes, especially when your sleeping brain seems to think that it can time travel and you can pick up where you ‘left off’ 25+ years ago. I seem to wake up every morning disappointed and disheartened. I’d give my eye teeth to be ‘normal’. Only that’s not true, either, not really, because I don’t think I could ‘do’ normal.
    How do you find out what God wants you to do? I mean, He gives us skills and talents for a reason. How do you find out who you are and who you’re meant to be when you’re nearly 40? Or is this just the question of someone who is actually living an incredibly privileged life and ought to just thank God for the gift of each day?

    I am not expecting you to know the answers, Tim, although if God gives you (or anyone else) a prompt, I’d be grateful.

    • Tim says:

      When it comes to knowing what I should be doing, sfk, I’ve found the only thing that works is for me to do what God has placed in front of me that day or time in my life. Sometimes that’s been long-term (like taking up this blog ministry, for example), and others it’s been completed in a single event. I just trust the Spirit to use me rather than rely on myself trying to figure out what would be best for me to do.

  6. These are tough to get past though. Particularly when your career path didn’t really go as planned or really go anywhere to begin with I suppose. Sometimes I think we rely on the myths a lot more than we rely on God and that’s a lot of the problem.

    • Tim says:

      You’ve hit it exactly, Jeremy. When we rely on the myths instead of God, we’re either ready to blame forces beyond our control (the myths) or place undue reliance on ourselves (i.e., I didn’t do enough to overcome the myths)

  7. Pastor Bob says:

    The first four have a ring of truth, the last is as wishful as that ring of truth.
    Trouble is any good idea, especially if meant as a good starting point can be turned into absolutes. Human absolutes are dangerous, God’s are NOT.

    MBA sounds nice, looks nice but will not advance my career track.
    (Many with JD’s are no longer in law …. )

    • Tim says:

      I tell people a JD is great for a lot of occupations other than practicing law, PB. And I like your take on absolutes, too.

  8. Rev. Carlene Appel says:

    To the folks (those “they”) who invented Myth #4: Hey haven’t you guys heard the term “starving artists and musicians”??? Had I been single when I was a professional vocalist/12 string guitarist, that would have been me. But hey, I was doing what I love. Having electricity, running water and a roof over one’s head is overrated! Bring on the Ramen noodles and Mac & Cheese!!! Breakfast, lunch and dinner of Champions!!! LOL 😉

    • Tim says:

      Your menu planning reminds me of a friend of mine. When he was in med school (pursuing what he had a passion for) he and his roommate lived on Top Ramen and Tang their first year. Mm-mm good.

  9. Pingback: Go For It. Or Don’t. A Scriptural Philosophy Of Life. | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

  10. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this wisdom, Tim! This is something my husband and I remind people of quite often, a lesson we learned over six years of volunteer youth ministry. You are not always going to see the results of your work, but honoring God in what you do is what really matters.

    Also, I’m glad you clarified that you’re sure Omaha is very nice. 😉

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