How to Build an Empire (hint: make your own name great)

td-jakes.jpgI have been thinking lately a good deal about my motivational center for doing ministry. Last night, Joel Osteen was on 60 Minutes. I also watched an expose of T.D. Jakes and “Jesus is the product” here. I couldn’t help but think, what drives these men?

Upon closer examination, I couldn’t help but think that what drives them is the same thing that drives me, unfortunately. Obviously, I don’t know their hearts, but I know my own. In Genesis 11, God judges an entire civilization for building a tower to the heavens. But their main sin, however, was  their desire to make for themselves a great name.

T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and other-smiling-preachers-who-live-extravagantly-on-the-backs-of- the-donations-of-their-congregants have great names and Christian empires that are quite lucrative.

What is important for us ministers to keep in mind is our motivational center. What drives us? Are we driven to preach a powerful sermon or lead a great time in worship because we crave the accolades and attention? And if we don’t get the praise we desire, then is it time to give up because “God is calling me elsewhere?”

We need to love God’s name more than our own. Many churches are cults of personality where a dominant charismatic figure builds an empire based on his own skill as a minister and gathers people around him as “God’s man.” They assume lofty titles like “bishop” and like to sit in the places of honor at gatherings.

I suppose the question to ponder is this: would I still be willing to do this if no one ever knew my name and I never grew past 100 people? Those are the ministers I admire. The obscure men working their butts off and loving the Lord faithfully without an empire and a great name.

  1. I believe it was the great philosopher, Ray Stephens, who asked, “Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car? Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressin’ room have a star? If He came back tomorrow, well there’s somethin’ I’d like to know. Could ya tell me, Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show.”

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