Last Sunday night, Kanye West made huge strides in my book – but I am not sure in which direction he went. West was awarded the MTV Video Vanguard Award; it’s just another lifetime achievement award. Even after a few days removed from his speech, I still feel the same way I did hearing it live – torn, conflicted, and convicted.
SOMETIMES “HELPING” HURTS
In life, and specifically ministry, I relate to Mr. West. There are times when in the midst of fighting for the “cause” – whatever it may be, I’ve committed casualties. Kanye put it this way,
“The contradiction is: I do fight for artists, but in that fight I somehow was disrespectful to artists.”
There have been countless times, in my pursuit of fighting for the integrity of the Gospel message, I have ended up hurting ministers of that Gospel.
More often than not, this is rooted out of my own insecurity and desire to be acknowledged at the expense of a minister doing a great work for the Kingdom. You may feel justified in your defense of the Gospel and how it should be distributed to all kinds of people. However, in order to reach all kinds of people – it takes all kinds of ministers, with all kinds of ways of administering it. When we have these “Imma let you finsh but first…” moments, we believe we are helping the ministry of the Gospel but when your “helping” has hurt a minister, you have hurt the ministry.
James tells us, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” (James 3:13-16). To harbor our jealousy and insecurity only hurts the big picture.
Walk in humility. The way you do ministry isn’t the only way to do ministry. James goes on to say that wisdom is the most effective way to discuss ministry differences, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere” (James 3:17). When debating in wisdom - peace is the referee.
GREAT AND ACKNOWLEDGED
Kanye, unintentionally, shed a light on another black spot on ministry,
“I still don't understand award shows. I don't understand how they get five people who worked their entire life one sold records, sold concert tickets…and for the first time in their life be judged on a chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don't understand it…”
For some strange reason, we have done the same thing in ministry. We have randomly formulated what a successful or great ministry is, and for each of us if is a different criteria we judge on.
A mentor and friend of my mine hit the nail on the head,
“We have confused greatness with acknowledgement”.
So many times, I find myself judging myself and my calling based on the successes and outcomes of other ministries. I have often assumed that because someone is recognized or “awarded” that is how ministry is “supposed to be done”.