Too many try to operate in their own strength.
Too many try to operate in their own strength. (Pixabay/NeuPaddy)

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It's one of Satan's most subtle strategies. He's so sly that we don't even recognize it's happening. That strategy? To entice us to do ministry, whether as a pastor or a layperson, in our own power. He simply is not alarmed when we go through the motions and activities of church, but without the power of God on us.

Here are nine signs you might be operating in your own power:

  1. You act first, and pray second. If your tendency is to do ministry and then pray about it only when you have to—that is, when you finally face a mountain you can't climb on your own —you're operating first in your own strength.
  2. You choose not to tackle ministry activities outside your interests or your abilities. Church leaders who do only what they love to do or what they know they can do well don't have to depend much on God. Why rely on Him when you can do it without Him?  
  3. You don't seek help or support from others. Lone-ranger leaders, by definition, don't need anybody else's help—including God's. If you're doing ministry by yourself, your aloneness is likely an indication of your powerlessness as well.
  4. You have not enlisted any prayer partners to walk with you. Raising up prayer partners is more than just a spiritual thing that Christian leaders are supposed to do; it's a confession that we cannot do ministry without the power of God.
  5. Your prayer life is generally poor, if not non-existent. Much of the time, an anemic prayer life is not a sign of spiritual weakness; rather, it's a sign of spiritual arrogance that assumes we don't need much help.
  6. Your ministry has seldom seen genuine life transformation in others. Sure, you may have seen some growth in your church, but that growth is often more transferring sheep than reaching the lost. You may be growing a crowd, but not a New Testament church marked by the power of God.
  7. You still have besetting sins in your life. Leaders who walk in the power of God are broken over their sin, and they cannot rest in Him as long as their life displeases Him. Deep, deep conviction marks those who seek to live in God's power.
  8. Your family knows that your walk with God lacks His power. Those who know you best might say that you know God, but they wouldn't say that your life is anything more than a routine, powerless Christianity.
  9. You yourself know you're operating in your own power. You know the difference between working in your own strength and serving under the overwhelming power of God—and your life reflects the former more than the latter. You know that denying that reality would be a lie.

What other signs would you add to this list?

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.

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