by David Schooler

I can’t believe he did that to you! I will never speak to him again.”

“What I am doing isn’t any big deal, not compared to what other ministry partners are doing. I don’t really matter.”

Paul says something in his closing remarks in the letter he wrote to the Corinthians with which those who live to serve can identify. He says, “There are many opportunities, but, much opposition.”                    ( 1 Corinthians 16:9.) This opposition comes in many fashions and form and is called by many names—but its purpose is clear and constant-to “Steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a)

Since Satan cannot violate our will or physically hurt us, he does possess a highly successful system of lie-based traps that have the potential at least diminishing our ministry and perhaps even destroying us. The New Testament does not warn us about the devil nearly as much as it does to warn us to be aware of his schemes, plots, wiles, etc.

It is essential, therefore, for us to be able to recognize the traps and avoid them and to not suffer the crippling effects of them. Over 40 years of ministry, I have sat down and listened to and prayed for many servants who are now empty, broken, sad, and ineffectual. In most if not all cases, a trap can be identified and a lie exposed that led them to this dark place. I know the destructive power of traps as I have, myself, fallen into them and have suffered their suffocating effect. I would like to mention a few of the most common traps in which many of us still fall.

 

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Trapped by Picking Up Another’s Offenses

I can’t believe he did that to you! I will never speak to him again.”

We are to carry one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2, but not pick up their offenses. This is a deadly trap that has devastating effects on a person’s well-being on every level. I have set up protective fence around myself that says, “I will not allow myself to be pulled into another’s dysfunction or drama.” Proverbs 26:12 has a unique way of stating this trap. “Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog by its ears.” Trust me, it will not end well. If you have ever experienced the pain of a church split, then you have experienced what happens when we take on the offenses of another.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:10 that many will be offended and that offense leads to betrayal, hatred and anger. Such emotions have great potential to make us sick and to destroy not only our lives but our ministries as well. There are many healthy and healing things we can do for those who serve alongside of us but taking up their offenses is not one of them. It is a deadly trap.

Someone once said, “If I am not part of the problem or part of the solution, it is best to stay out of it.” That is great advice.

Trapped by Belief Small Things Don’t Matter

“What I am doing isn’t any big deal, not compared to what other ministry partners are doing. I don’t really matter.”

There is one thing I have learned for sure over the years. My job is to be faithful in doing what appears to be a small thing realizing that it can be ultimately woven together into a big and glorious purpose and plan. Our first church was nestled in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks. When we first arrived, we had a crowd of eight faithful folks. We determined to be faithful to those few and God honored that.

By believing that the tasks we are given are unimportant or beneath that others or us have better positions and prominence has the potential to deplete a person’s spiritual and emotional energies. We can very easily get caught up feeling small about the small stuff that seems to make no sense or have any signicance whatsoever. This trap can steal our joy and deplete us emotionally and spiritually. I can think of no greater counsel than to just be faithful in the small things and God has awesome ways of making them big. This is our calling—to do the small things faithfully and He takes it from there.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. Luke 16:10

There are many traps into which the servants of God fall and unless rescued, their well-being and ministry will be compromised. We spoke of just two; there are others we will discuss. Summing up, may I say that these are old tricks, going back to the garden, Genesis 3:13. They are not new, but it seems every generation falls for them. They are lie-based traps. If truth sets us free, then the opposite is also true, lies take away our freedom.

I had a fellow servant call me recently. I have known him for a number of years and knew him to be committed and passionate. His voice and mannerism were always positive and up-beat. Ten seconds into the call I knew something was wrong. He was flat and said, Pastor, I am in trouble—not morally, but I am depressed, empty and exhausted. We met and it was discovered he had stepped into one of the traps we will discuss in the next article. He did the right thing by asking for help and he is on the road to recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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