Signs You May Be Doing Ministry Under Your Own Power

Check these out to see if pride and selfishness have crept into your ministry.
Check these out to see if pride and selfishness have crept into your ministry. (Flickr )

I've been studying spiritual warfare for more than 20 years, and I've watched the enemy mow down believers, leaders and churches with sin, false teaching and division.

I've also seen the enemy attack leaders in a surprising way: by enticing us to operate in our own power rather than God's power. He wants us to be like the disciples in Mark 9, who tried to cast out a demon without praying—thus operating in their own strength.

Here are some signs that you might be leading this same way:

1. You primarily pray only when you must. If your habit is to fix first, and then pray second, you're probably operating in your own strength. 

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2. You tend to think you can accomplish anything. Be gut-level honest with yourself: Do you think you can accomplish almost anything? If so, you might not be tackling any God-sized tasks that require you to lean on Him.

3. You don't really live a life of dependence. You might say you do, but you know that's not really the case. If you can do most of what you do without the power of God, you're relying on self.

4. Your strongest days of walking with God are in the past. If your highest points of walking with God through Bible study, prayer, fasting, evangelism and such are in the yesterdays of your life, you're likely not leaning on the power of God today. 

5. You're losing the private sin battle. You're losing because you're fighting in your own strength. It's private because you don't want anyone to know your struggles. Being that honest requires admitting need.

6. You admire people who seem to be truly walking with God, but you don't change. If all of your heroes are what you still want to become, but you are not, in fact, growing in that direction, you're likely relying on yourself rather than God.

7. Your family knows a different you than the public you. Your family probably knows better than you do whether you're living in God's power or yours. It's our private self, not our public self, that best answers the question of this post. 

8. You just know your reality. Even if none of these markers were to characterize you, you'd still say you're living according to your own strength. If that's where you are, I challenge you to confess your heart to God. Just taking that step will move you in the right direction.

Let me know how I might pray for you.

Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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