The Six False Signposts That’ll Derail Your Ministry

The Six False Signposts That’ll Derail Your Ministry

What happens when you finally arrive at the place or calling you have been dreaming about for years? Long ago you received a great promise from God just as David did from Samuel and after years in the wilderness you finally come into your own personal promised land. We assume that just because we finally leave the wilderness that everything will be ok and we can just kick up our feet and enjoy the benefits of finally receiving the manifestation of God’s grand promise in our lives.

However, what most people fail to realize is that exiting the wilderness and coming into your own personal promised land brings with it the opportunity to either succeed or fall into even more trouble than you experienced in the wilderness. We expect a Disney style happily ever after to soar across the sky when we receive our promise, such as when David was made king of Judah. In our minds we expect the story to end there, no more development just the enjoyment of what we have received.

This place is where we tend to get complacent and forget the lessons we learned in the darker moments in the wilderness. This is where we have a choice to either remain diligent and faithful or we allow ourselves to abuse and neglect the great things God has done for us over the years. Just look at the Israelites after they exited the wilderness and began to take the Promised Land. They were delivered from the desert but still had to struggle to claim that territory, and after they took enough of it to be comfortable, they relented and assumed that now it was time to live happily ever after. But that’s not what happened throughout the book of Judges. We see how Israel stood at the crossroads of the two paths of a fulfilled calling and decided to take the dark path which lead them to idolatry, rebellion and oppression.

When we face the culmination of our calling becoming realized the temptation is there and stronger than ever to “forget” the three great keys of 1) Go to church, 2) Read your Bible and 3) Don’t Sin. The entire process of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement which was supposed to draw you closer to God becomes corrupted and simply makes you a god unto yourself.

This is why we have to take the lessons, experiences and times with God we have lived though during the wilderness and become even more diligent so we can make it to the bottom of the mountain and receive our commission without sacrificing our relationship with God in the process.

Finally Reaching the Place of Announcement

At this point of the story we see the day that David became king in 2 Samuel 1. Despite the setbacks faced by the Amalekites raid in 1 Samuel 30 David proved to his men that he was a faithful leader who would stop at nothing to take back what was stolen from them. He turned a moment of grief and loss into one of victory and it’s no surprise that this is the last major event which happened before the battle between Israel and Philistia which claimed the lives of Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 31).

In the aftermath that followed that battle David finally became king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4), but this was not the end of the story. It was another seven and a half years after this coronation that David became the undisputed king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4-5), albeit under less than ideal circumstances. Such as the seven-year civil war ((2 Samuel 3:1), Joab’s murder of Abner (2 Samuel 3:26-27) and the murder of king Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:5-8). Both of these deaths were not by David’s hand but by overly zealous and selfish individuals trying to force David’s promise into coming to pass. See, no happily ever after guaranteed here for many of those involved.

Even at times when we feel we have a calling and a promise from God we actually might be going against God’s will. It seems that Ishbosheth was fully convinced that he was the true and anointed king of Israel after Saul and Jonathan died. This is something we need to honestly ask ourselves in our own lives and the pursuit of our promised land. In this story are we David or Ishbosheth, Abner or Joab, Peter or Judas? To understand who we actually are in God’s eyes as this story plays out we need to begin to recognize the differences between the signposts of the false path and the true path.

The Six Signposts of the False Path

When you go down the false path there are six things which will begin to manifest in your life and lead you further away from God and deeper into a worship of yourself and other things. Each of these signposts will lead you further down into the darkness which seeks to corrupt and destroy the promise from God in your life. Yet at each step there is still the opportunity for repentance where you can escape this twisted trajectory, but it feels that at each step that window of repentance gets smaller and smaller as our own pride and desires overshadow the light of Christ trying to rescue us from ourselves.

What I’m about to lay out here is not a random process, you will see how each stage is a progression into the other. As people struggle without repentance in each step it is only natural to descend even further down into trouble and a corruption of their spiritual gifts and calling from God. You’ll also notice later that many of these steps will have a counterpart that we’ll see next month in The Seven True Signposts That’ll Supercharge Your Ministry.

Many of the trials are the same but how we react and work in cooperation with God will determine the blessings or curses which come on our heart and life in general. I pray that you take a deep look at yourself as you read through this list and don’t just think about other people when you see each signpost.

1) Admiration: What I am speaking of here is the love and support of those around you, and those who helped you get to where God is calling you. This isn’t a bad thing to feel and experience on the surface, but it can become a stumbling block if you become addicted to the praise of others and base your choices on how the people will admire and praise you for your actions (John 12:43). This is the first test which will determine if your heart becomes entrenched in either pride (1 Timothy 3:6) or humility (1 Peter 5:5) as this process becomes a greater part of your life.

2) Addiction: When we begin to find our identity in the admiration of other people and not in Christ, we begin to get addicted to the sociological high we feel,or even the rush you get in ministry. We begin to fall into the same trap king Saul did where he disobeyed God in order to please the people who had lost patience with Samuel. Or you end up like the false teachers Peter spoke of in 2 Peter 2:12-17 who are referred to as wells without water, those whose true purpose is made hollow.

3) Adultery: From the place of admiration and addiction comes the next phase, adultery. This can run the gambit from physical adultery with a person other than your spouse all the way to spiritual adultery that you commit against God. The natural side of this is the climax of false admiration. Where you as person in ministry finds fulfillment in the arms of another who “appreciates” you or your giftings more than those closest to you. Or you do it just because you wanted to like David did with Bathsheba. The spiritual side of adultery comes in the form of setting other teachings, spirits, or the opinions of others over and above God in your life. Another form of this spiritual adultery comes in the form of grafting in teachings from non-biblical spiritual sources into the gospel and creating a mish-mash of people pleasing doctrines that lead people further away from God (even if they don’t realize it until its too late).

4) Accusation: When addiction to the opinions of people and the darkness of adultery (natural and spiritual) begins to reach their boiling point you often lash out in accusation against others who are making the same mistakes. Or you fight against anyone and everyone who could question your actions or even discover the problems of your own heart. Other times this is the season where the first whispers of your failings begin to escape from the places you prayed no one would discover (1 Timothy 5:24). Here you begin to convince yourself that because of grace or previous season of faithfulness God will overlook this darkness which is overtaking your life (Romans 2:1-6).

5) Adversity: From the place of accusation you move then to the place of adversity where you are either trying to defend the choices that placed you on the false path or you begin to openly attack all those who try to oppose or correct you. This is a terrible time not just for those in ministry but for the entire church (and larger body of Christ as well). A time where the world sees that those Christians are no better off (or are actually worse) than they are. This adversity is the last chance a person in ministry has to rectify their problems and seek help. Unfortunately, most people on this false path instead become more entrenched. This is similar to how Saul after being rejected by God fell into the place of madness, rage and an absence of peace.

6) Abdicate: Eventually once you come to the sudden end of the false path you will be faced with the command to abdicate your calling and purpose in life. Here the failures, sins and stubbornness of your life leads you to the place where you are disqualified from continuing in your ministry/calling/promise. That is not to say a person cannot be restored after years of repair, but this is the point where the needs of the many outweigh the sins of the one, so to speak. For Saul this began when Samuel declared him to be stripped of God’s favor and that judgment came to pass when he was killed in the war against the Philistines. Even in the New Testament we have examples spoken of by Paul such as Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:14-19) who were separated so they couldn’t do more damage to the church.

The Bridge To Nowhere

The end of the false path brings us to the place where all of the good things God has promised to do through our lives gets used against us to drive us further away from Him than we ever were before. Each gift and opportunity was corrupted and used to bring about the opposite intention that God commissioned. Here in this pit of despair you are left alone with the hauntings of your heart which show you all the damage you did to yourself, those around you and the church as a whole. There you are not like Jeremiah looking for help and justification for your faithfulness but rather you are there as a prisoner who can no longer be allowed to inflict damage on others any further.

This pit of darkness is the final realm of repentance where those who sacrificed their hearts and relationships with God little by little are left to wrestle with the implications of living a life or leading a ministry which was more concerned with pleasing people and becoming successful according to the worlds standards

You can compare these people to medieval knights who in the midst of battle began to take off their armor piece by piece so they can be freer to live out their calling as a knight. Yet each time they took off a piece of their armor they left themselves increasingly exposed to the perils of the false signposts. They wanted to be free of the weight and limitations the armor provided so they threw it away piece by piece until they were no longer protected on the battlefield. Eventually those knights were wounded, killed, captured, or they ended up betraying their allegiances and ended up serving the desires of their enemy.

Hope is not lost as next month I’ll show you The Seven True Signposts That’ll Supercharge Your Ministry and show you how to overcome the pitfalls of the false path and become a success in ministry according to God’s standards.

 
Creative Commons LicenseThe Six False Signposts That’ll Derail Your Ministry Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
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Reaching The Edge of The Wilderness

Reaching the Edge of the Wilderness

If you take the lessons and introspections of the wilderness seriously you will eventually find yourself at the edge of the wilderness. That place where you can finally see what is waiting for you beyond the horizon, that place you know as your calling and purpose in life. For some it’s ministry, others business, or another type of career. No matter what it is this is the place where you can finally see what you only hoped could be possible one day.

It’s that place where promises get fulfilled where you can finally enjoy the benefits and added responsibilities of becoming who God created you to be. For some this could be a paid position at a church, others a place on the mission field, or a job teaching, or even serving in any other capacity. The years of grief, training, apprenticeship, seeming futility, small victories and painful growth are finally about to bloom into something wonderful. Something that you have hoped for and simultaneously expected to never actually happen.

It’s that place where promises get fulfilled where you can finally enjoy the benefits and added responsibilities of becoming who God created you to be.

With David this was the place he found himself in during the last months of his trek through the wilderness avoiding the persecution of Saul. So many years had gone by since his original anointing and commissioning by Samuel as a teenager. Now the process of Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation were about to culminate in the season of Announcement.

Finding Comfort in Unexpected Places

The path to ministry, or any calling from God for that matter is never just a clear trajectory from point A to point B. Often God will take us through twists, turns and unexpected detours not to punish us or hold us back but to give us what we need to flourish in our callings.

The path to ministry, or any calling from God for that matter is never just a clear trajectory from point A to point B.

David faced an unexpected turn in his strategic retreat from king Saul, as he found himself serving a Philistine ruler named Achish the king of Gath. This same ruler that David pretended to be insane in front of years ago (1 Samuel 21:12-14), but since seems to have come to an understanding with. David received a home called Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:6) in exchange for him and his forces protecting the Philistines south-eastern territory from the Amalekites and other rogue tribes (1 Samuel 27:8).

On the surface David seemed to have sided with the same people who regularly raided his tribe’s territory and sent the likes of Goliath against his people. Yet by serving this Philistine king as a mercenary he also fulfilled a task which also benefited the tribe of Judah as well (1 Samuel 27:10), by keeping Israel’s ancient enemy the Amalekites (Numbers 14:43-45, Deuteronomy 25:17, Judges 6:3, 1 Samuel 14:48, 15:18) at bay deep in the southern wilderness.

What we see play out here in this story of David is how the path to our destination will sometimes take us to unexpected places. These paths seem to be taking us in the opposite direction from our calling but actually are preparing us in a way we didn’t expect. I had a season like this myself, for about three years I had a second job where I wrote investment articles about Canadian stocks. It wasn’t something I was particularly passionate about and at the time I was more focused on working on the home group curriculum and other sider project at the church I was attending.

These paths seem to be taking us in the opposite direction from our calling but actually are preparing us in a way we didn’t expect.

During this season I was writing four to five 3,000 word articles each week and it taught me how to present otherwise unexciting information in an interesting and concise way. It was an education I probably couldn’t have received anywhere else and it prepared me for what I’m doing now with my books and the regular content on my website. It was the polar opposite of what I wanted to do with my time and ministry but in the long-term it was one of the best things I could’ve done with my time back then.

The experience helped me pay off my mortgage quicker, it gave me the skills to write entire term papers in a day (without sacrificing my GPA), and how to structure information in a way which helped me greatly in writing my books. But that job was only for a season and many of you will face the same unexpected twists and turns in your journey as well. You just have to be willing to accept and recognize these detours and to do the best job possible at them because later on you’ll see how those unexpected places helped you become who God wanted you to transform into.

Typically, you’ll know this season of detouring and unexpected travels comes to an end because you’ll swiftly be kicked out of the nest so to speak. With my stock writing this came in the form of cutbacks which reduced the minimum payments for my articles to the point where it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. With David this came in the form of the other Philistine kings dismissing David and not allowing him to march with their army (1 Samuel 29:4-7).

While on the one hand the other Philistine rulers wanted nothing to do with David, Achish still recognized the faithfulness of David and had nothing bad to say about him (1 Samuel 29:3). Just because you’re in this place that feels nowhere near the place of your eventual ministry it doesn’t give you a license to do a poor job or to not be faithful in doing it. David remained faithful even in serving Achish and ensured his reputation was not eroded by his actions during a less that favorable point in his life.

Facing The Last Ditch Attacks of the Enemy

After being dismissed from the Philistine’s army David and his 600 men returned to their home in Ziklag, but instead of finding their families waiting joyously for them they returned to smoke, ashes and silence (1 Samuel 30:3). In an instant everything was gone their wives, children, flocks and possessions were nowhere to be seen. It was that feeling of abandonment by God and hopelessness which many of us have faced at one point or another. You walk into your place of comfort only to find everything torn down and left in ruin.

Those who followed David went from faithful companions to near mutiny, where they wanted revenge by killing David because of their loss (1 Samuel 30:6). The Amalekites struck knowing that the Philistines and Israelites were too busy fighting each other to protect their southern frontiers. This also could have been done out of revenge for David’s earlier attacks on them (1 Samuel 27:8). Either way David’s enemy had struck leaving him and his followers broken and at the point of despair.

We have to understand that our enemy is also an opportunist who lives at the edges of our own lives, looking for moments to invade and carry away the blessings God has given to us.

We have to understand that our enemy is also an opportunist who lives at the edges of our own lives, looking for moments to invade and carry away the blessings God has given to us. Satan always attacks hardest right before you enter into something new and powerful. He and his forces watch as you reach the summit of the mountain blocking your destiny and they wait just below the peak to stop you from seeing the lush valley of promise and fulfillment below.

They understand that the more successful you are at contributing to the expansion of God’s kingdom in this world the greater risk you pose to their own territory. In reality you are like David and his forces making raids into enemy territory and carrying off the spoils back to their own lands. The forces of the enemy see you as the great invaders who are coming to take their people away from them so they lie in wait for a moment where you are unprepared to resist their retaliations.

In that moment David lost everything, but he didn’t cower or give up but instead rose up and sought out God’s will in that situation (1 Samuel 30:7-8). Upon receiving the green-light from God David lead his forces to take back all that was lost. Days later David and his forces defeated the Amalekites and took back everything which was stolen, plus the riches of the Amalekites. David later shared those spoils with the leaders of Judah who supported him.

We must learn from this experience because we will have trials and times of failure and loss and we have to endure and push through it otherwise we will never recover what was lost and we end up drifting back into the heart of the wilderness and blaming God for our misfortunes. When we face these seasons of loss or spiritual attack, we have to come at it from the perspective of “I’m going to fight back and reclaim what was lost, plus interest.”

When we face these seasons of loss or spiritual attack, we have to come at it from the perspective of “I’m going to fight back and reclaim what was lost, plus interest.”

You cannot use these types of losses or attacks to discourage you from continuing in the path to your calling. Because if you throw in the towel, you’ll just become another beggar along the road or corpse in the ditch serving as a witness to all those who come along this journey after you, that “happily ever after” is not guaranteed.

There are struggles and battles that have to be won, and you can’t do it all alone, what would have happened if David left the six hundred behind and went off to fight the Philistines alone? He would have most likely ended up like the swordsman in Indian Jones, struck down without any real effort. Then all of the promises and anointing David received would have been made meaningless. You need to fight these battles with others as well, you need the support of those who are still in the wilderness and you need help from those who have come out of it.

The End Is In Sight

If you have proven faithful in the seasons of unexpected detours and the surprise attacks of the enemy, you’ll soon find yourself at the edge of the wilderness. The place where you’ve reached the summit of the immoveable mountain of your life, the one which said you could never enter into the fullness of your calling.

All that remains now is to walk down that mountain and enter the valley God has been preparing for you. The place where you are announced as being who God created you to be, the place where the anointing placed on you long ago manifests into an active calling, a visible platform, and the added responsibilities become real. To make it to this place you have to have learned how to benefit from the detours of life and you need to have developed the courage to take back what the enemy has stolen from you.

To make it to this place you have to have learned how to benefit from the detours of life and you need to have developed the courage to take back what the enemy has stolen from you.

Otherwise you still may find your way out of the wilderness, but you will be ill equipped and left with nothing but the proverbial shirt on your back. You’ll soon find out that you weren’t prepared and will have to go through the season of training and refining all over again. When we come to the summit of that mountain we don’t want to be like Moses who only received a glimpse of the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). Rather we want to be like Caleb who was able to enter into the promised land and take the territory promised to him, with a little help of course (Joshua 14:14, Joshua 15:13-17).

Just like the entire process of surviving the wilderness where you have to cultivate faithfulness, character and your relationship with God, exiting the wilderness takes even greater mastery of those matters. You can’t coast down the mountain so to speak because if you do you will inevitably fall over and impale yourself on a tree or fall off a cliff. This steady march down hill can be the most perilous part of the process because you begin to let your guard down and you try and rush the process because you are so close to the end.

This is where we tend to get lazy and “forget” the three great keys of 1) Go to Church, 2) Read your Bible and 3) Don’t Sin. Or we no longer see one or all of them as being important because we can almost touch the place of our Announcement into our calling. We hear that Saul has been killed and realize that in a matter of days or moments we will be made king so to speak. This is why we have to take the lessons, experiences and times with God we have lived though during the wilderness and become even more diligent so we can make it to the bottom of the mountain and receive our commission.

For those of you who do make it to the bottom of the mountain and are free of the wilderness, receiving your commissioning and having your calling announced to the world is not the end of the story, Next week we will look at the two paths your life can take once you have received the fullness of your long promised anointing.

“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
Six Minutes of Grace cover
To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Six Minutes of Grace: They Key To Happiness and Purpose. Get your copy today and discover how you can radically change your life through the power of GRACE.

Also available as an eBook here from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and other retailers.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss out on anything.

 
Creative Commons LicenseReaching The Edge of the Wilderness Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.