Keep Your Motives Right!
“He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6, NIV).
A motive is a need or desire that causes a person to act or speak. The biblical example of Judas, shows how dangerous it is if our motives do not match our words. Let’s speculate for a moment. When this incident took place John probably did not know Judas was a thief. When Judas said this, it sounded good and maybe even right to John. Yes, he probably thought, “We meet poor people every day and this ointment is worth a lot of money. Yes, we could help many people with this money.” It was much later while writing his letter about the life and times of Jesus that it was all clear to him. John could not help himself; he had to mention Judas’ wrong motives. Spoken words do not always reflect what is in the heart.
Wrong motives are not usually revealed in a day. In most cases it takes time. To know a person’s motives becomes the responsibility of the leader. The United Pentecostal Church has a policy used in many countries of having three levels of ministerial license. Most ministers start with a Local license and then progress to a General and finally Ordination. One of the purposes for this is so that we can know the heart, commitment, and motives of our preachers. Some have asked, is this scriptural? The Scripture teaches us in 1 Timothy 5:22 “Never ordain any one hastily, and take no part in the wrong-doing of others. Keep your life pure” (1 Timothy 5:22, TCNT). The Bible gives a principle, and we find a way of being obedient to it.
The author worked with a pastor who had a man in his church with wrong motives. He kept telling the pastor that God had given him gifts in music and that he wanted to start a choir. The pastor was suspicious of his motives. He approached this request with caution. He informed the young man that he could start a choir but he would have to have all his practices at the pastor’s home. The young man’s real motive was to get close to the young ladies in the church. His motives were not pure. The pastor told him they would have to practice for some months before they could sing in the church. He knew within a short time if the young man didn’t get close to the girls he would quit. Sure enough, within just a few weeks he came to the pastor and said, “This choir isn’t doing well, I am going to disband it.” The pastor, a good leader, found a way to protect his sheep and overcome the wrong motives of the young man.
The leader’s best friend when it comes to judging the motives of his people is time. Time brings many things to light.
How are you going to use your friend, time? Some leaders want to go forward quickly. They want to take chances to see growth. Others are willing to put people in church positions that they do not know well. They will trust them to do a job based on their talents. In the Kingdom of God there is more to examine than talents. A good leader also gives time to know a person’s spirit, commitment, and motives. If talent is the only thing the leader judges, then more times than not, they take three steps forward and then five steps backwards.
Leader, time is your friend. Use it to your benefit. You don’t have to say, “No” to someone straight out. Use your friend, time. Like the pastor in the story about the choir. He used time to protect himself and his people from a wrong decision. He didn’t say “No,” but set up a plan to examine the young man’s motives. Those with wrong motives argue against the use of time. You have Scripture on your side. “Test everything, Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV). Do not forget 1 Timothy 5:22. This is the author’s translation, “Do not place a person into a place of authority quickly.” Use time, it is one of your best friends.
The author observed a pastor as he made some decisions about musical instruments obtained by his church. They bought the instruments but didn’t have anyone skilled enough to play them. They bought a guitar, bass guitar, and drum set. In a short amount of time some young men came to the church and said, “We can play these for you in your church services.” They were allowed. When asked about the situation the pastor said, “What else could we do? They are the only people who know how to play these instruments.” It didn’t take long to find out these young men were not interested in helping the church worship God. They just wanted to play the instruments. Some people suffered because of this decision. These young men were not even Christians. One young lady became pregnant by one of the young men. After that they were stopped from playing. In a short amount of time information was passed to the pastor that these young men had done the same in another church. If this pastor’s friend “time” had been used, it would have saved this heartache.
A person’s motives are not seen clearly in a day or week. When faced with the decision of giving someone a position in the church, test them. If they complain about the test, then they probably don’t have the right motives. Give them a program to follow for a specific time to see how they respond. Don’t make it impossible and if they have been with you for a long period of time then it probably isn’t necessary. “My loved ones, do not put your faith in every spirit, but put them to the test, to see if they are from God: because a great number of false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, BBE).
Do you know people who will work for the Lord as long as it involves having a microphone in their hand? If they are up front where people can see them then they will be faithful and appear spiritual. When the microphone is taken away, they are not excited about church. We should know that spirit. We should not put people in a position to be an example when their motives are not right. Do they want to see the lost saved, or do they want to be seen? We, the leaders, are to test them and see if we think their spirit, motives, and desires are for God, or otherwise. There are musicians who have been removed from playing in church as a discipline and then never return to that church again. Why, because their motives were not right. Remember 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Your church or organization will go forward quicker if you test those you work with before you promote them to a responsibility on your team. Without a period of testing you will continue to advance on your goals and then when wrong motives are discovered you will go backwards from your goal for a period of time before you can go forward again. For some reason it is human nature to forget victories quickly and easily but mistakes made by spiritual leaders are long remembered. Will your people know you by the good decisions you make, or the poor ones?
If God tests the hearts of men, then you, as a leader of His church also have a responsibility, in His stead, to test the leaders you chose to work under you. Remember, time is the leader’s friend. Some pastors unwisely give a new man in their church a position because he was educated or had a job. The man didn’t have the Holy Ghost yet, but that wasn’t considered. You are not pushing your church forward by doing such things.
Your motives for doing the work of God will determine how you look at people. Organizational leader, when you have to make a decision concerning two pastors under you, does the fact that one voted for you and one didn’t influence your decision. If so, your motives are not correct. You are more interested in position than you are determining right from wrong and what is best for God’s church. Wrong motives lead to unwise decisions.
When a visitor walks into your church, how do you look at them? What do you see? Do you think, “I wonder where he works and how much money does he makes?” Do you think, “Another person who has problems and is going to take my time telling me all about his trouble?”
What is your motive as you try to help this new person know about God? The pastor with correct motives sees a lost soul and thinks, “How am I going to help this person make heaven their home?” The right motive isn’t based on what this new person can do for you, but how you can help him.
Fear is a strong motivator. In the life of the spiritual leader a decision motivated by fear will always get you into trouble. “Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24). Saul told Samuel, “I have a reason why I did what I did. I did it out of fear for the people.” Anna Jameson, a British author made this statement, “In morals what begins in fear usually ends in wickedness: in religion what begins in fear usually ends in fanaticism. Fear, either as a principle or a motive, is the beginning of all evil.” Our faith motivates God to accomplish His will in us. Fear motivates Satan and allows him to accomplish his will. God works in the realm of faith. Satan works in the realm of fear. Faith is the currency of heaven; fear is the currency of hell.
King David, the man after God’s heart said, “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2, NIV). King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived said, “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord” (Proverbs, 16:2, NIV). God is as interested in why you do something as what you do. What is in your heart determines your decision. It must be for the right motive or there will be no reward from God for it. “Take heed that you do not do your merciful deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 1:6).
2 Corinthians 5:14 teaches the correct motive for doing what we do for Christ. “For the love of Christ constrains us, judging this, that if one died for all, then all died” (NIV). The love of Jesus Christ forces me, compels me, to do all I do in my appointed duties as a spiritual leader. If it is anything less, there is no reward from Him.
by James Crumpacker