Posted by: Darrell Johnson | January 26, 2010

let us not romanticize serving Him.

–verb (used with object)

1. to make romantic; invest with a romantic character: Many people romanticize the role of an editor.

–verb (used without object)

2. to hold romantic notions, ideas, etc.

I’ve learned a great deal during my time here at Jeff St. Something that I’ve learned here is that when it comes to serving the Lord, whether it be overseas installing water purifiers, leading a small group at a church, setting a good example amongst our coworkers, or handing out a bowl of soup in a homeless shelter…such service is not ours to make of it what we will. We should not  get caught up in the romantic ideas of fulfilling our heart’s desire.

What I mean by that is that our first passion, whether you be a school teacher or a missionary supported solely by a church, should be that of Christ Jesus. Living a life that serves as a living sacrifice and falling in love with the Lord all over again everyday as well as dying to our own ambitions and selfish desires daily is what should fuel our hearts to serve faithfully and humbly. Recently a friend of mine asked me about my thoughts on the possibility of them moving to Africa and serving as a missionary there; I quickly said, “don’ t do it.” Confused, my friend asked me why I would say such a thing and probably wondered (at the time) what kind of friend I was; but I replied by telling this person that your call to serve should not be dependent on my affirmation/support but rather what it is that the Lord is telling them to do. I answer the same way to friends who are interested in attending a Bible college or Seminary, it’s not to be discouraging but to rather challenge them to seek the Lord more than people. NOTE: I do pray for these people to seek out the Lord and recognize His guidance in their lives.

Stressing the importance to seek out the Lord is something that I need to do everyday, it’s so easy for me to take my time at Jeff St. and make it my own. Such thinking leads me astray from what I was called to do…Love God & love others. Instead, I mull on why the ministry isn’t this picturesque experience that you see on film and read in books. The letdown that, at times, ensues is the aftermath of recognizing that my own desires and ideals on how things should be are not the way that God had intended it to be.

Why is that I can nod my head and agree with the preacher on a Sunday morning, but fail to do the same thing when I find myself breaking up a fight that started over a piece of luggage. Something is not right here, and that something is my own heart.

It’s not always easy hearing people tell you that “you’re doing such a great thing” or “I’m very proud of you” when I know in my own heart that  some days are sullied with the selfish aspirations of living out a movie script or being the central character to helping someone change. SHAME ON ME! How on earth will I selflessly serve when my service is fueled by romanticizing the ministry field.

One tragic result of romanticizing the ministry field (or anything in life even) more than we love and adore the Lord, is the paralyzing trend of setting unrealistic expectations. Noted pastoral counselor and author Paul Tripp observed that…”unrealistic expectations cause each of us to live more independently and self-sufficiently that we ever should.” He goes on to further note that we set unrealistic expectations because, “we don’t take seriously what the Bible has to say about the condition of the world in which we live. Here it is: Sin has cast this world into trouble.”

Now it’s easy to sit down and have visions of extending a helping hand to someone who thirsts (there’s nothing wrong with this kind of mercy/help), but when the moment comes that we have to endure the evils of this world and witness first hand that spiritual warfare is indeed a reality…the ideal version of our service conjured up by unrealistic expectations and romanticizing the idea of serving our Lord is not being lived out. We then have two options, cash in our chips admit defeat before the masses and leave the table or humbly repent before the Lord and ask for a renewal of the heart, so that we do not fall into the trend of self-seeking/romanticized ministry all over again.

“The opposite of being in despair is to have faith.” — Soren Kierkegaard

Today I spoke with a two young people and it broke my heart to speak to them, it broke my heart to know that the 18 year old young man and his 17 year old girlfriend were on their way to Daytona Beach, FL to live the “good life.” It broke my heart to urge them to find people who cared about them and wanted the best for their lives. It broke my heart to then think that may not be a reality. No you can’t plan ahead for these moments, nothing from a book or a film can prepare you for the ministry that God calls us to do everyday. And that’s exactly why we shouldn’t romanticize serving him, because we don’t want to make it our own. That’s why quiet time with God and finding the truths of His Word are so vital for our day to day lives and I pray that all our thirst would be quenched by his righteous Truth.

“God created man in his image, man returned the favor” – Blaise Pascal

Oh I pray that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that we’ve got a better plan for ministering to “the least of these” or that doing so is some picturesque endeavor that makes us feel good about ourselves when the day is done.

OH LORD, guide us all.


  1. These last 2 blogs are great. Much needed reminders and kicks in the pants. Keep it up.

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