God has made us to value or treasure things or people more than others. This instinct that God has given us can be our greatest strength or our greatest weakness. It just depends on what we treasure. This is no different in pastoral ministry as Paul Tripp notes in his great book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry:
Let’s begin by unpacking the concept of treasure that Christ uses. Treasure is a provocative word. Imagine I am holding a twenty-dollar bill in front of you. Why is it worth twenty dollars? It’s not because it is made from twenty dollars’ worth of paper. That would entail a stack of paper. It’s not because it is made up of twenty dollars’ worth of ink. That would entail a pail of ink. You see, the value of the twenty-dollar bill isn’t intrinsic value but assigned value. Our government has assigned to that bill the value of two thousand pennies. Thus it is with most of the things that we treasure. Few of them have intrinsic value. No, most of them have assigned value. What does that mean? It means they have value because we have named them as valuable. This is something you do all the time. You are constantly value-rating the things in your life. That’s why the old proverb says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” You are constantly naming things as important and other things as not so important. You are always attaching your inner hope and contentment to something, and when you do, those things take on life-shaping value. Let’s return to our twenty-dollar bill and see how it will shape our lives once that value has been assigned to it. Once my bill has the value of twenty dollars, the number of those you offer me will determine whether I will take that job or not. The number of those I have will determine the size of my house, the neighborhood I live in, the kind of car I drive, the quality of clothes I wear, the cuisine I eat, the level of health care I have, the vacations I take, and my hopes for retirement, and it may sadly even determine the kind of people I want to hang out with. Once something is our treasure, it will command our desires and shape our behavior. So there are two practical conclusions that immediately flow from Christ’s teaching on treasure. I want to state each conclusion in the context of pastoral ministry. First, in pastoral ministry it is very hard to keep what God says is important, important in your heart. What always happens to each one of us is that things in ministry rise in importance way beyond their true importance, and when they do, they begin to command our desires and shape our behavior. Also, it is critical to understand that your ministry will always be either propelled by or victimized by what you treasure. When you treasure what God says is truly valuable, your ministry will be protected and enhanced by the treasure commitments of your heart. But when you treasure things that God doesn’t say are important, you find yourself in the way of, rather than part of, what God is doing in your ministry at that moment.
What do you treasure more than anything? It will shape your life for glory or for failure.
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