I read an article recently about the midfielder, Alex Song. In it, he speaks about his big money transfer from Arsenal to Barcelona. He was warned, before he left, that he would barely get any playing time at the Spanish club. Some counselled him to stay and continue playing regularly in a big Premier League team. But Song decided to move anyway and so it proved to be.
Whilst many would make that move, believing they really could break into the first-team squad of the Spanish giants, Song was much more honest about his reasons. Song moved purely for the money. He says:
I FELT MY WIFE AND CHILDREN SHOULD HAVE COMFORTABLE LIVES ONCE MY CAREER IS OVER. I MET BARCA’S SPORTING DIRECTOR, AND HE TOLD ME I WOULD NOT GET TO PLAY MANY GAMES. BUT I DIDN’T GIVE A **** – I KNEW THAT NOW I WOULD BECOME A MILLIONAIRE.
Song was honest about his motivation. He wasn’t bothered about the football at this stage. He moved purely for the money. Depending on how you view it, he was either caring for the needs of his family well, or moving for totally the wrong reasons. I suspect, as far as most football fans are concerned, the football itself ought to be the key reason you choose to move to a new club.
In the church, we have to ask ourselves about our motivations too. Particularly, as far as a call to ministry is concerned, why are we choosing to do what we are going to do? I suspect – though I don’t rule it out altogether – most of us probably aren’t only prepared to go to where we’ll get the biggest payday. Most of us probably aren’t quite that crass (though let’s not pretend it probably hasn’t been a factor ever before). But our motivations for going into ministry may well not be for the best gospel reasons.
After all, going into gospel ministry – much like expecting a footballer going to a new club to move because of the football – ought to be driven by the cause of the gospel, shouldn’t it? Not many of us would be that impressed to find out our pastor was only here because it gave him a job to feed his family. We want a pastor who is here (presumably) because he believes the gospel and recognises the gospel need here. If we are going to welcome any sort of transfer growth at all – and, as I’ve said before, I don’t think we should despise it – we want transfer that is gospel-driven. Nobody is going to be that impressed by people looking to move to their church because it looks a bit more comfortable and easier going than where they’ve come from.
The problem is, often our moves are based on these sorts of things. We move to the church with the big children’s work because we think that is vital for our kids. We move to the church in the city because it has more going on than the pokey little church just down the road from us. We go to the church with the better preaching, not the faithful church with the less impressive preacher who could really use our help. We will go where we can be served, not so much where we know we will have most opportunity to serve.
So, when we are looking for a church – if we need to make a transfer – are we actually being driven by real gospel concerns?