Skip to content
Need some Easter Sermon inspiration? Check out our Easter Sermon Collection Learn more
Go back


The Jesus Model of Ministry: Motivation

The Jesus Model of Ministry: Motivation

If we want to know how to effectively minister to others, we need to look at the model Jesus established. Last week, we talked about identification, that we must know who we are and who we belong to in order to be confident in ministry. By understanding that God creates each of us to be unique, we can engage in ministry without comparing ourselves to or copying others.

This week I want to talk about our motivation for ministry. To be effective in ministry, we must clarify why we are in ministry.

This was a settled issue for Jesus. He dedicated his entire life to pleasing God. In John 5:30, Jesus says, “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (NIV).

What was Jesus’ motivation for ministry? It was to please God the Father. Was it to please himself? No. Other people? No. To be popular? No. To make a lot of money? No. Ego strokes? No. He said, “I do it to please the Father.”

In your ministry, you have to clarify, “Who or what am I serving?” You have to do this right up front. Ministry is too costly to be motivated by the wrong motive. You’ve got to have the right motive in serving Jesus or you will not last for the long haul.

What is the right motive?  “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” Jesus dedicated his entire life to pleasing God. When Jesus was baptized and the Spirit came down as a dove and the Father spoke, he said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 KJV).

The fact is, you can’t please everybody. That’s one of the great stresses in ministry. In fact, as a pastor, I’ve learned two things: There are people in the church who will support me no matter what I do, and there are people in the church who will criticize me no matter what I do.

Never base your ministry on what other people say about you; base it on what God says to do. Focus on pleasing God.

If you don’t focus your ministry on God, you’ll discover people will place all kinds of impossible expectations on you. Perhaps you’ve seen this before, but this funny takeoff on a chain letter does a pretty good job of showing how a congregation’s expectations can become unrealistic:

“The results of a computerized survey of the expectations of church members now indicate the following characteristics of the perfect pastor: He preaches exactly fifteen minutes and includes all that the Bible has to say about the sermon subject. He condemns everybody’s sin, except your sins, and he never says anything anyone might disagree with. He works from 6 A.M. until midnight and gets eight hours of sleep to stay healthy. He’s also the janitor after each service. He prepares a sermon every week for 40 years and never repeats an idea, an illustration, or a joke. He makes sixty dollars a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a new car, and gives fifty dollars a week to the poor. He’s 28 years old and has been in the ministry for 30 years. Half of his hair is youthful blond and the other side is gray to give him that distinguished look. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all of his time with senior citizens. He’s a close personal friend to every member. The perfect pastor smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 visits a day to church families, shut-ins and the hospitalized, spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched and is always in his office when you need him. He has four kids who never get in trouble and a wife who cooks like Betty Crocker, counsels like Joyce Brothers, prays like Anna, and looks like Marilyn Monroe without making anyone else jealous. If your pastor does not measure up to these expectations, simply send this chain letter to six other churches whose pastors fail to reach these reasonable standards. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of the list. In one year you will receive 1,643 pastors. And one of them should be perfect. Warning: Keep this letter going. One church broke the chain and got its old pastor back.”

You can’t please everybody, so you have to settle the issue of motivation right now. Who am I trying to please? The apostle Paul says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT).

Learn to live for an audience of one. I’m learning more and more the importance of that statement. No matter what I do, what matters is what Jesus would think about what I’m trying to do.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

Weekly Email for Pastors and Church Leaders

    We care about your data. Read our privacy policy.

    Pastor Rick Warren smiling