By Clint Ellis
Recently, I took part in some spring cleaning at home, more specifically on my toolbox. The lid wouldn’t close because of the number of tools inside.
As I laid it out on the floor, I had to answer the question, “Do I need this many tools?” For the mechanically inclined, the answer may be a resounding yes, but I’m not that man.
I knew I didn’t need everything there, but the thought of getting rid of things caused my pulse to increase and a cold sweat to break out on my forehead.
After much back and forth, the realization that a man who has difficulty hanging a picture straight probably didn’t need fifteen screwdrivers.
Once the purge was complete, I was relieved, but the experience caused me to reflect on my spiritual life.
Were there things I was holding on to that were unnecessary? Were the items stowed away keeping me from experiencing the relationship with God for which I was created?
Did my soul need a bit of spring cleaning? I found it did, and in truth, most pastors might honestly answer in the affirmative.
Pastor to pastor, let me propose three areas that might be worthy of self-evaluation and a good dose of spring cleaning.
1. People Pleasing
Most pastors want to be well-loved. We want everyone to like us and think highly of every decision we make.
We want to be admired and revered as a great preacher and leader.
While these desires aren’t inherently sinful of themselves, they’re like eating ice cream. It’s not harmful in small doses, but can be detrimental to your health if overindulged.
If unchecked, people-pleasing can lead to leadership paralysis at best, and spiritual compromise at worst.
A deacon in my first church often reminded me a pastor wouldn’t often please everyone. If everyone is satisfied, then God may not be.
When given a choice between pleasing people or God, choose the Lord every time. Paul said it best in Galatians 1:10:
For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
2. Prioritizing Self
Please don’t misunderstand me. We must take care of ourselves. Pastors need rest, exercise, and to feed ourselves well physically and spiritually.
However, if we only focus on ourselves to the exclusion of caring for and ministering to others, we make idols out of our hearts.
This idolatry leads to laziness, pride, and selfishness. All of these can hinder us from the deep relationship God has for us.
We must prioritize following Christ and serving others rather than ourselves, as Jesus outlined in Mark 6:34b:
If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
3. Pet Sins
The final target for our spiritual spring cleaning is one that so many Christians guard zealously. Everyone has a particular predisposition to certain sins.
When life gets difficult or stressful, we tend to run there for comfort rather than towards Jesus. Unfortunately, the more we immerse ourselves in sin, the farther away from God we slide.
Consider well the warning of David’s life. He was a man after God’s own heart, yet, 2 Samuel 11-12 paints a terrifying portrait of small sin that when left undealt with desensitized the king to the Spirit of God in his life.
Before one can blink, there’s a series of tragedies to call him to repentance and to pursue his relationship with God. Still, he had to deal with the consequences.
Don’t allow a pet sin keep you from what God wants for you.
Spring is often a time we spruce up our homes and offices. Let this season also be a time we eliminate hindrances from our spiritual life, as it says in Colossians 3:9b-10:
Since you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, you are being renewed in the knowledge according to the image of your creator.”
Happy spring cleaning!
CLINT ELLIS (@ClintEllis) is a follower of Jesus, husband, father, pastor of Fellowship Baptist in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduate of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.