It is possible to confuse intimacy with God and ministry. That might sound crazy, but it’s true. Just because a person is in ministry doesn’t mean they have a flourishing relationship with God. And just because someone has an intimate relationship with God doesn’t mean they are in full-time ministry.
Ministry and intimacy are fundamentally different because they are focused on a different purpose. Intimacy with God is focused on God – enjoying Him, loving Him, listening to Him, talking to Him. It is all about the relationship and drawing near to Him.
Ministry is focused on service – serving, training, teaching, preaching, giving of oneself in numerous ways – for the good of others and for the glory of God. It is easy to think that because we are serving God and praying to Him for direction and for needs of the ministry that we are in close relationship with Him. But we cannot confuse the two.
James Emery White, a Pastor and Professor at Gordon Conwell Seminary said this,
When you are in ministry, it is easy to confuse doing things for God with spending time with God; to confuse activity with intimacy; to mistake the trappings of spirituality for being spiritual.(1)
God’s greatest calling is to Himself, not to ministry (John 15:5). God desires that we prioritize our relationship with Him over our love for and dedication to our ministry.
Think back over your last month of ministry. Have you had separate times of growing in intimacy with God and doing the work of the ministry? Or have they gotten confused in your life and your schedule?
Talk with God about your observations. Ask Him what needs to change in your life and ministry. Ask for His help to prioritize and guard your relationship with Him over the work of the ministry.