Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question about what to blog about, both on the blog and in person.  People seemed inclined to go for my idea.  So here goes.

Remember this is not scientific, not really in order (#9 is not worse than #10 etc.).  It’s just my random but collected thoughts after being a follower of Jesus and pastor for a while.

We’ll start with the top ten traps that I’ve seen Christians fall into. One every day or two for the next while.  Remember, I myself have fallen into all of these at one point or another, so this is in no way an ‘I know better thing’.  We’re all in the same boat.  We just don’t want it to take on water…..

#10. Confusing How You Serve God with Your Identity as a Follower of Jesus
I’ve seen this way too many times.  Serving God is great, and biblical.  But too often we get so hooked on what we do for Him that it becomes our identity in Him.   

We are worshipers of Jesus first, and servants of Him second.  In the church, so many people fuse their identity with what they do (their role) that it becomes deeply unhealthy.

If you got cut from your worship team, stepped back from the usher team, told you weren’t need to do sound again, wouldn’t be leading a small group, or told you wouldn’t be preaching anymore, would your love for God be threatened?  Would you still worship?  Would you dig deep into the Word?  Would you pray with gratitude?  I’ve seen too many people only go to church when they serve or play or preach.  That’s not really worship.  That’s a gig.  Underneath it (often) is a very insecure person who feels they need something to make them "acceptable" or "meaningful".   Nothing could be further from the truth.  We have value — enough for Jesus to die for us.  That should be where we start.

If your service/job could be taken away from you and you could still have full participation in the life of Jesus, then you’ve probably got a healthy attitude toward how you serve God.  You serve Him because you love Him, and you serve Him out of gratitude for what He’s done for you.

How do you combat this trap?  I remind myself virtually every week that what I do is a privilege.  It’s not why God loves me and not why I love Him.  I also read daily bible passages that have nothing to do with what I preach and pray about lots of things that are about "life", not just church.  I remind myself I’m a worshiper first, a servant second, a preacher third.  It helps.  Ironically, when I get that order right, it actually frees me up to serve God far better than when I’ve got it wrong, because when it’s wrong my service is about me, not Him.

Anything in your heart need adjusting?


  1. Carey Nieuwhof on January 13, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Tina…you're so right. Kind, truthful, caring "transfers" out of service areas is a must. Churches are too well known for slashing and burning people. Not good. But whether people are "transitioned" or whether they simply step back voluntarily often plays with our identity. And we sometimes start to trash in private conversation what we used to say was "fantastic" when we were in it. That's all. But you are so right, we always need to transition with grace and kindness.

  2. Tina Harkey on January 13, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Hi Carey,

    Being on staff I find it so difficult to worship at church. I'm so busy thinking of what I should be out doing versus where I am (in God's presence). I love visiting other churches and going to conferences because I don't feel the pressure of making sure my area is excellent. This is hard.

    Then there is the issue of my people leaving because they weren't gifted to teach and I asked them to serve in another area. But what about when someone is gifted to play or sing and we tell them they aren't needed anymore. How do they serve? They feel less valuable. They feel unneeded. Especially if they have given 7-8 hrs of service for 5-8 years and then all of the sudden they aren't needed anymore. Don't you think it is our duty as leaders to make sure we transition people correctly so they aren't taken aback by realignment. After all we are all human…

  3. Joe Jesseau on January 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I think sometimes its hard to remember what Sonship or being Gods Son truly means. For years I followed after the gifts and titles of particular ministries in the Word. And as time went on I started noticing that the responsibility of always serving in these capacities were becoming heavier and heavier. As well as the Accountability becoming more evident in what I percieved God calling me for. It wasn`t until about 14 years ago that Through the constant searching of The Scriptures and almost on a daily basis wrestling in prayer, I realized that He Called me His Son First, before I called Him Father. I was His Son and still am Today. And as A Son of The Most High God my service was to Him first. then to my Family, then to His people.I realized that all the avenues of Ministry were created by Him to serve His People wholeheartedly. And as time went on The Load got lighter and lighter until I was His Freed man.It was then, that I realized that the characteristics and attitudes of Living that I lived as a non_believer didnt change when I became a believer. As a non-believer I need to have a certain occupation or trade skill to be recognised or seen. or to even feel important.Because in those days, I struggled with Low self Esteem and literally no confidence at all. And when I devoted my life to Jesus and was Born Again, I carried those same traits into my christian life from a Worldly life. And God the Father Through His Son Jesus revealed to me that, He was in me as a non-believer spurring me closer to the day of standing in relationship with Jesus, and when the DNA Born Again experience took place, All that I was before had died or never existed, because those traits were created by me, and so had an End.But the Fruits of The Holy Spirit were Eternal and though they exist in me now and have born more fruit as the time went on, I actually had no responsibility in it, because I didnt create it. HE DID!!! Who am I today??? I`m Gods Son. A co-heir with Jesus.and as His Son, I serve to Bless Gods People. Because He served to bless me. ( He Loved me Before I loved Him)

    United with You in Jesus
    Joseph Jesseau

  4. Learning on January 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I have only recently come back to the church/Christianity. I am finally realizing what it means to be a Christian, something that eluded me being raised in a strick Catholic family. Though I am still learning to be a true worshiper, I find myself becoming anxious and guilty that I am not doing more in serving the church. Reading #10 Trap has put it in perspective for me. I truely need to become a sound worshiper of Jesus before I'm ready to move on. When the time is right God will show me the way.

  5. Allen Forget on January 8, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Man have I ever seen my share of this in the last bunch of years! You know in restrospect I saw my share when I was a youth in the Catholic church as well. One of the things I have heard so many times preached, especially to leaders in the church (visible leaders), is that it is "not about us but it is about Jesus". Of course what is difficult here is the human emotional side that cannot ignore maybe the simple emotional attachement to what we do every week. It is tough! Some may say "why is our music leader always singing lead vocals on the songs". "Why can't I sing lead vocals too". There are two problems about saying stuff like that. One, maybe that person thinks they have the skills but in fact do not and really it is hard to tell someone that they have trouble singing in key, especially when they are serving God with all their heart and they also are your friends. Secondly, just uttering those words makes it about you. Think about it, I did not choose to sing for God, he choose me. I believe that he will also choose anyone else when they are ready for it. Not when WE think we are ready, when HE thinks we are ready.
    I had an experience a few years ago that really changed me and also changed the way people looked at me as a person and a follower of Jesus. We had a difficult struggle on our praise team when I was a musician on it and it lead to me leaving abruptly due to the indifference that I had with the leadership at that time over a view of participation. Did I leave the church? No! I was there the next Sunday to worship. Shortly after, due to my experiance with all things musical, I was asked to take over the audio production ministry which I did for a couple of years. I think some people wondered "why is this guy who can play and sing and reach people with music up there at the sound board"? The answer surprised me too! I believe God was preparing me to become a leader in His church. I think that we need to let go of what we hold dear to us at times to really test God's placement for us anywhere. I let go and He returned to me to say "you are ready". I do not want people to look at me as the "music guy" but rather "that committed follower of Jesus".

  6. Pat on January 7, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    When I was in Bible College I really got caught up in the idea of being one of the worship leaders there. I was leading the youth travelling team, and really focused most of my energy and time on that. I was "Pat the Worship Leader."

    I had a really good friend who came alongside me and really challenged me on this. She kept trying to help me see that my identity is not in what I do for God, but in who I am in God. I really didn't take to the lesson very well, and for a long while fought to keep my identity as a worship leader.

    Even in my first few months at Trinity, it being my first real "ministry job," I fought hard to maintain my identity as the "director of music," as the "worship leader." It took me a while to realize that not only was that focus hurting me, but hurting my team and the church as well. It wasn't until I started focusing on who I am in God, realizing that I am his follower, and that I need to be building into my relationship with him and with the people around me that I started to see what "worship leading" truly meant.

    My friend helped me to realize that it's not about the labels. It's not about making sure people know I'm "the worship leader" or "worship pastor" or that I even make sure they know I'm a "Christian." They need to know that I love them, because of who I am and because of Who loves me.


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