I began thinking about this very question and made this discovery about myself. When I started out 22 years ago as a minister I preached for Him. I did ministry for Him. I visited the hospitals for Him. I loved people for HIM!
When I went to pastor my first church in October 1997 I was 27 years old and was going to win the whole wide world to Jesus. My first church was not in the best location. It was a church of about 25 or 30 people at that time. I walked into that church and preached for Him. I did everything for Him. That little church was the most difficult time I have ever experienced in my ministry. I remember telling God that if this is what ministry was about I quit! That little church grew from 25 to 100 in just 6 months. God was doing His work because I was doing ministry for Him, not them.
I moved to my second church September 1999 at the age of 29. This church was running 75 with $3,500 a month tithe. I approached this assignment just like the last, for HIM. This church took off and in six months it was up to 120 in attendance and paying $7,500 a month in tithe. I spent countless hours at the hospital because there were several people that had cancer when we arrived as their pastor. I visited, prayed, preached funerals and loved people for Him. The church got up to 160 in morning worship and was paying $15,000 a month in tithe. God was doing so much that it was overwhelming but we were so busy serving Him that we never noticed how overwhelming it really was. You see back then I did every thing for Him and I spoke for Him and refused to give into the enemy. We had been there about 6.5 months when I experienced a personal attack from someone in the church. I tried not to take it personal, but it was personal. A gentleman in the church was doing everything in his power to run me off. I had meetings with him where I would speak to him in love but with the Boldness of the Lord and more times than I care to admit with a lot of spunk and very little wisdom.
It was during this attack that things started to change and the sad part is I did not even realize that it was happening. I began pastoring for THEM instead of Him. I started preaching to correct situations in the church. I would bring my personal hurts/opinions into the pulpit. I was not preaching for Him; I was now preaching for survival! I was not going to the hospitals for Him. I was now going out of obligation to them.
I do not know where or when I resumed ministry for HIM but somehow I did. The church began to pick back up and there was excitement in the air. We were having the time of our lives. God had put people around me that were strong where I was weak. I only had one paid staff member who I believe was receiving $250 a week. I remember there being a time that I thought I would pastor this church for the rest of my life. People were coming from all over the county it seemed. I would stand and declare, “THEY ARE COMING FROM THE NORTH, THE SOUTH, THE EAST AND THE WEST. “ It was the most real ministry I have ever been a part of and it was because I belonged to HIM and I did everything in ministry for HIM. God was doing so much and He led me to call the church to a 40 day fast (“Got Flies”) and the last 7 days we prayed 24 hours a day in the church. People signed up and there was prayer going forth and fasting. Wow! When the fast ended I felt led to have Rick Bradley come and preach a Sunday night through Tuesday night. I did not realize it then but God needed to encourage Rick and he was going to use the church to do it. From Sunday to Tuesday there was 20 or more saved and on Tuesday night alone 8 were baptized in the Holy Ghost. I had David Mays and Fyffe youth on Wednesday night and 4 more were saved. I asked the church if they would come back on Thursday night and I would preach. My brother Jeff called me after church Wednesday night to see how church went and I invited him to come be in service with us Thursday and Friday. On Thursday night I gave an altar call during worship and 3 people got saved. We took up the offering and the choir began to sing and the Holy Ghost began to move and I ran to the pulpit and gave another altar call and 4 more people got saved. Then came Friday and the enemy began working and people were getting jealous. Division started to set in. Why you might ask? Because we were doing ministry because we belonged to HIM and not them. 46 people were saved that week and 16 baptized in the Holy Ghost.
It was during this time that my wife was attacked in the almost same manner as I was and again without evening knowing it, I began to do every thing for them instead of HIM. The sad part is that I just now (almost 10 years later) realize that when a preacher says harsh things from the pulpit, it is because he has been wounded and he is NOT hearing from God– he is hearing from HURT and is preaching for them (survival).
If you have been wounded guard your heart and mind with the Word!
Take time away from the situations each week so you can hear from HIM!
Focus on Him and not them because if you see and hear from God, HE will take good care of them!