Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 5

Questions About Evaluating Your Motives

How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Questions About Evaluating Your Motives

I. Questions About Evaluating Your Motives

A. How do you monitor your motives?

B. What do you mean by, "the merits of Christ?"

C. How do you respond when you see "red flags"

D. Wanting affirmation in ministry

E. What do you do when peoples' expectations don't match what God is calling you to do?

  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • This lesson covers the involvement of Christians in societal issues, using historical examples and emphasizing the balance of Christ's work for and in believers, while critiquing modern church practices and advocating for active ministry participation by all members.
  • This lesson teaches the importance of balancing Christian service with receptivity to God's word, using the story of Martha and Mary to illustrate the need for prioritizing spiritual union with Christ over mere activity, emphasizing the consequences of a divided heart and the necessity of both justification and sanctification.
  • Learn to identify red flags in your ministry, distinguish between serving God and personal ambition, and address anxiety, self-pity, and control issues by trusting God and adopting humility.
  • Understand the theological concept that your essence is divinely created and precedes your existence, contrasting this with Sartre's existentialism, and learn the importance of receiving God's guidance over defining your life by accomplishments.
  • Learn to critically evaluate your motives, distinguish between self-serving and God-serving actions, understand the role of community in avoiding self-deception, recognize the significance of Christ's atonement, handle red flags, and balance people's expectations with God's calling.
  • The lesson teaches you to balance spiritual renewal and active ministry by self-reflecting on weekly activities, ensuring you receive God's grace and effectively respond to His directives, thus preventing burnout and sustaining a healthy ministry.
  • Learn to live like a reservoir, receiving spiritual replenishment before giving, through prioritizing key practices like prayer and scripture, and avoiding depletion by maintaining a constant spiritual reservoir and making essential practices an integral part of daily life.
  • This lesson teaches you to live by integrating core Christian principles daily, maintaining foundational practices like loving God, building relationships, serving vocally, and caring for your body, while emphasizing the importance of following Jesus closely and avoiding the pitfalls of church leadership.
  • Learn about the eight deadly sins, their historical and spiritual context, and the importance of overcoming them through spiritual disciplines, while illustrating the consequences of these sins through biblical examples, especially emphasizing the dangers of anger and depreciation of God's goodness.
  • Learn about dealing with inordinate sadness and grief in ministry, understanding the importance of acknowledging suffering, supporting others compassionately, handling difficult relationships with integrity, and addressing unresolved anger constructively.
  • You learn the importance of gratitude, the dangers of sadness and acedia, the need for internal well-being through a relationship with God, and the power of infused hope in overcoming ministry challenges.
  • Gain insights into the dangers of vainglory and pride, the importance of humility, prayer, and community support, and the significance of recognizing God's sovereignty in overcoming self-centeredness and narcissism.
  • Integrating sermon teachings into your heart is crucial, all sins are deadly, and you should submit worries to God, rejoice, and take every thought captive for Christ, using early church wisdom to overcome temptations like gluttony for spiritual growth.
  • This lesson teaches you how to identify and combat the eight deadly sins using virtues like temperance, chaste love, poverty of spirit, meekness, appreciation, infused faith, hope, love, and humility, relying on divine grace to transform these vices into a deeper spiritual life.
  • Understand that crises, whether personal or ministry-related, are opportunities for spiritual growth by seeking God's refuge, understanding forced detachment crises, maintaining healthy life rhythms, and recognizing divine purification amidst challenges.
  • This lesson teaches how crises reveal the light of Christ, illustrating the transformative power of faith through biblical examples and personal experiences, emphasizing reliance on God's resources and presence, and portraying ministry as a pressure cooker demanding quick maturity and resilience.
  • Explore Christian anthropology, understanding God's image in us, and the dimensions of human life, roles, and spiritual longings, emphasizing the balance between physical, functional, and spiritual aspects guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson continues the study of Christian anthropology through Adrian Von Comm's field theory, emphasizing Christ at the center of interconnected aspects of human existence—interior, relational, here and now, and global life—encouraging balance, cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and harmonious Christian living.
  • Learn that as a leader, worship is central to your role, involving a holistic response to God's love and guidance, emphasizing discipleship, biblical understanding, and aligning with God's purpose through praise and adoration, preventing apathy and enriching your leadership journey.
  • Understand that true worship according to the New Testament is about honoring and serving God alone, avoiding idolatry, and leading a life of genuine service and love toward Him, while recognizing and addressing the major obstacles to authentic worship within contemporary church practices.
  • Understand the importance of genuine worship leadership, personal worship alignment, the significance of historical church traditions, the dangers of overloaded worship services, and the mission to uphold true worship against global falsehoods.
  • Learn about the core aspects of worship in Revelation 4, emphasizing humility, submission, and the connection between future and present worship, encouraging heartfelt adoration and genuine worship practices in church leadership.
  • Learn how a leader's spiritual life impacts their ministry, the necessity of comprehensive discipleship, the integration of gospel content into daily life, and the importance of articulating and practicing core theological doctrines.
  • Explore the dynamic nature of spiritual life and leadership, emphasizing shifts from traditional to transformative ministry, clergy-centered to congregation-empowered roles, and solo to team leadership, advocating mature discipleship and active laity engagement.
  • Learn the importance of integrating sermons into discipleship, focusing on high commitment, contextualization, personal mentoring, and a family-like atmosphere, while emphasizing biblical and theological grounding for a solid foundation.
  • Biblical and theological grounding, genuine discipleship, and the formation of life-giving dispositions are crucial for spiritual growth and active participation in God's mission, leading to personal joy, communal fulfillment, and a global impact.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of a Leader
Questions About Evaluating Your Motives
Lesson Transcript


I. Questions About Evaluating Your Motives

A. How Do You Monitor Your Motives?

We really need time to integrate what we have heard; sometimes it is good to question what we have heard. We need to ask whether or not it is really the Gospel or not. Anything a prophet says is subject to who or what of the other prophets. Does anyone have the whole truth of God in their life? Well, God gives us Jesus and his truth. Anyway, questions help us integrate the information that we have.

How can we distinguish between building a kingdom for the Lord and building a kingdom for ourselves? I think that as an individual, I am not fully capable of seeing it. I think the more gifts and grace that God has given me the more capable I am of self-deception. I am speaking out of my own personal life here; none of this is theoretical. I think the only way we can avoid self-deception is through the community that we live in and are a part of. If I am married I would also refer to my wife or spouse to know what they think. Moreover, Christianity is not me but instead it is we; Christianity is in the plural, not in the singular. There are some things that can be accomplished being a single person. No one can accept the goodness of God’s kingdom for me; I have to accept that myself. When you look at Jean-Paul Sartre, this leads to individualism and egoism; it is whatever feels right and whatever feels good for you. The early church talked about the eight deadly sins and the beginning of holiness is the realization of all the eight deadly sins reside in my life. The worst of the worst are vain glory followed by pride. Vain glory is thinking in terms of how good you are, taking the credit instead of giving it to God. The only way I know to do that is to submit myself to a small group of people who I allow to speak into my life. In some circles, it is called a 360 review which is really difficult. You allow those over you and those under you and beside you to speak truth into your lives. What we know from the early churches, the deeper you get into Christ, the more subtle deceptions you have. I have to have the body of Christ in my life.

B. What do You Mean by, ‘The Merits of Christ?’

You are using the phrase, ‘the merits of Christ.’ I know you don’t mean it in the Roman Catholic sense and so how do you mean it? When I talk about the merits of Christ in a classical understanding, it is what was accomplished for humanity on the Cross. We are talking about the atonement, the fact that Jesus died in my place. He defeated evil and took the punishment. Was God joking when he said that if you should not eat of the fruit, you will die? It is what Jesus did for me, a onetime historic act and we need to avoid thinking that this was some kind of a heroic martyr’s debt, something that inspired us, which is not a Christian view. We are not talking about a heroic martyr, but instead the God of the universe dying on the cross, a onetime historic event that covered the sin of the world. Does that mean that every person personally receives that? No, it doesn’t, but every person who responds, bending the knee and following Christ.

C. How do You Respond When you see Red Flags?

If we see any of the red flags in ourselves, the course will help us to know how to deal some of those. But just briefly, it is easy to identify those red flags in other people and especially in leaders. I don’t know if it is true but it seems like the more fame they get, it seems like it is even easier to see it. Do you have any thoughts on how to react to people who are in our leadership circles that I personally have to talk to or answer to?

This is a two point question and I need to know whether I understand it or not. Basically, what I do when I identify those in my own life and what I do when I identify those in other’s lives. For the second question, in 1st John 5:14, this is the boldness we have in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us and if we know that he hears us and in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the request made of him. In verse 16, if you see your brother committed what is not a mortal sin, you will ask and God will give life to such a one. This is where I have such an issue at times; the Lord created us to have sense of right and wrong. That is part of the work he has done for all humanity. So, when we see a wrong or injustice, we are naturally indigent. Sometimes we are called to stand against that which is wrong and it is right and good to stand against that which is wrong. I think the greater issue is who do I have a right to get mad at? If you take the wisdom of the early church for they say that there is only one person in the world you have a right to be angry with and that is yourself. Oswald Chambers says that you want the mind of Christ and he is trying to put life into that person. So the call for me is to ask what I see in the life of others. Do I just see what is wrong or am I trying to have the mind of Christ? You want the mind of Christ to pray life into your spouse and goodness into your children and to pray for your pastor. I’m checking those red flags because I don’t want to be known as a person who is always against, always irritated and angry with somebody else. This is making life miserable for yourself and everybody around you. The Holy Spirit brings these things up and you can deny them and thus you give Satan a foothold in your life.

D. Wanting Affirmation in Ministry

Just this last week, I met with a group of pastors and what you are talking about came up. This touched my heart then and also now. When we go up to preach and prepare, at one level, you don’t want to look like an idiot and at another level, you want people to like you; you did a great job. At one level, you want God to legitimately be glorified in the process. I’m assuming that tension because I don’t know which is taking over sometimes. I don’t have the ability to do so. I am assuming that tension is something we can live with and that God is in the sanctification process and can reveal what he wants. Is that accurate thinking, otherwise I don’t even know how we function.

I like your language of tension because you are admitting that there could be some impure stuff. All of us have to come to admit: am I going to collapse in being an anxious people pleaser? That term comes from the famous Neil Freudian psychotherapist by the name of Horney, a German psychotherapist. It is called the neurosis of our time. Am I going to be an anxious people pleaser? This is how it would work for me; I could literally have a hundred people walk out on Sunday morning and say, ‘good sermon preacher’ and a hundred people would tell me how something specifically spoke to them or how there was a transformational moment. And then one old blessed soul would come out and tell you how bad it was. It happens with anybody in an upfront ministry. It is even worse if you are a music person. I would find myself focusing the whole week on that one person and then I would go through all the red flags. I am called to present the Word as faithfully as I can and he knows that I am a cracked pot. The vessel is cracked. Being a potter, I love to do pottery. So, my vessel is cracked, it leaks and I have to have continual accountability. It is his word and I trust the power of that; I just pray for freedom for those I am training that you will not be lead down the path of being a people pleaser. I am not here to please anyone; I am here to please God. Does God love us enough to have people oppose us? It is just part of ministry today. You are not going to go anywhere without having opposition.

You are doing your best to check whether you are doing any kind of people pleasing. You are not there to build your own kingdom; you are being faithful and in that I will say to rest in the Lord. He is going to work it out.

E. What do You do When People’s Expectations don’t Match what God is Calling you to do?

I know that we are called to serve people and to serve the Lord with ministry being the idea of serving people in the process of it. People see us as serving them and there is a tension between serving the Lord and serving people between being a people pleaser and just trying to do your job. People have a lot of expectations on what that job is. I am wondering about the consumer culture that we live in. I know what some of the answers are but how do we resist this, that constant pressure to do your job.

You have to let Lazarus die. Once again, Mary and Martha, what? You stayed three days longer! He is dead! We are going to do a whole thing on expectation and anticipation. Expectations kill us. So the expectation is that I have hired you, I am paying you to do a job and basically it works itself out to saying, you are okay if you are there when I need you and how I need you on my own terms. In other words, omni-available, and my word is that you have to let Lazarus die. This has been a wonderful session and I pray that the Lord will guard his Word even through my very fallible ways.