in Ministry: Our Spiritual Struggle with Success, Achievement, and
Robert Schnase, Abingdon Press (1993)
was sitting down one day to lunch with a friend.
In the ensuing conversation he asked if I had read a book
entitled, Ambition in Ministry.
I admitted that I had seen it in a book room but had not read
I came away with this question, "Why would he want me to read
a book about ambition?" "Ambition?"
"In ministry?" I
kept asking myself.
anyway, I got a copy and read and discovered that my friend knew my
inner thoughts because he is a pastor and, like me, has an itch for
recognition, advancement, and power.
And so does the author of the book, "I wrestle with
these issues as do all conscientious pastors," he writes.
"This is my attempt to sort out for myself all of the
influences upon me, and the motivations within me, and to reflect on
the spiritual and theological commitment I have made as an ordained
minister" (p. 20).
theme is laid out in chapter one, "Achievement and
writes, "This book
has grown from two convictions: first, that tension is an inescapable
feature of ministry; and second, that from this tension can come life
and growth" (p. 20).
says the author, is not inherently wrong.
One can be ambitious for the good, driven to excellence by a
desire to improve their gifts. It
is not wrong for a person who preaches an effective sermon to 100
people to desire to preach that sermon to 200 (p. 18).
But ambition can easily go awry for the desire to be better can
turn into the competition of being "better than So-and so."
James and John decided to move closer to Jesus," Schnase
writes, "it was a commendable and inspired ambition.
But when they decided to sit closest to Jesus, their
focus changed. Rather than
looking to Jesus, they glanced furtively over their shoulders at the
other disciples, anticipating that their own spiritual accomplishments
had markedly overshadowed everyone else's.
Pride redirects ambition" (p. 45).
specializes in poking at the fleshly drives of ministry for
career-driven pastors. "If
we break free of the 'up is better' metaphor," writes Schnase,
"we realize that other questions should determine whether we
make a move. Maybe the
operative question is not, Does this move me up? but, Does this move
me closer? ---closer to the work God is calling me to do" (p.
the satisfaction we find in our work, and the effect moving onward and
upward will have on our family.
what about the church family? How
does our ambition affect the body of Christ?
last thing that high-strung, workaholic, career-driven suburbanites
need," writes Schnase, "is a high-strung, workaholic,
career-driven pastor. Families
suffocating under the anxieties brought on by their materialistic
drive for success do not need their compulsive behavior applauded by
their spiritual leaders" (p. 73).
in chapter six Schnase touches on “Accountable and Complete.” He
writes, “The first step toward strengthening positive ambition
and harnessing unhealthy ambition is to recognize that we harbor the
capacity for both. By
granting definition to our destructive impulses, we lift them from
mist and haze to tamable proportion … perhaps career-conscious
ministers need to admit, 'I must watch my ambitions.
I could easily drag my family across the state every two years,
chasing the shadows of my soul, pursuing higher salaries and larger
churches' " (p. 100).
calls pastors to go back, among other things, to grace, the Sabbath,
and autonomy (pp. 104-110). Autonomy
"is the capacity to balance and resolve opposing demands
within ourselves and between ourselves and between ourselves and
others” (p. 104).
pastors enjoy an inner confidence that allows them to risk and grow
and provide fruitful and challenging ministry without an overriding
fear of failure or disapproval" (p. 104).
is a good book for a pastoral group discussion. Questions for personal
reflection or group discussion are found in each of the six chapters
(pp. 21, 40-41, 61, 77-78, 98-99, 118-119).
let me encourage you to get a copy to read for yourself.
It is worth every cent.
book is available at BGST Library.
Ref.: LC 248.892 SCH.)
by Dr John Lim)
had the wonderful privilege of having Rev. Uday Kumar, principal of the
Calcutta Bible College visiting us last Wednesday (27 Aug).
He shared his teaching ministry and his interaction with the
College's students. He spoke
from 2 Tim. 1:1-7 and encouraged us to develop not only the mental but
also the relational dimension of both faculty and students.
next week on September 10 will be taken by Rev Ng Seng Chuan.
THE BIBLE LANDS
The focus of this Tour will be:
The focus of this Tour will be:
A BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO ...
Sophia Yap 1/9
Lim Bee Lum 2/9
Lau Pak Soon 3/9
Loh Chee Yen 3/9
Barry Zhang 3/9
Leong Weng Kam 3/9
Teo Choo Soo 4/9
Victor Chua 4/9
Hua Chai Sing 5/9
James Tan 6/9
Errol Oh 7/9
Quek Tze-Ming 7/9
Donna Lim 7/9