“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.” Phil. 1:15,17 (ESV)
When we think of qualities such as envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition, we probably don’t associate them with people who are engaged in ministry. But Paul clearly points out here that there are some involved in Christian ministry who do exhibit those traits.
Including those who preach Christ.
This should bring pause to each of us as we seek to grow in Christ and move in the direction of making medicine our ministry. We need to be aware of our own motivations within that ministry. It is wise for each of us to assume that within us exists some level of selfish ambition, envy, and rivalry. To think otherwise is rather foolish.
We each have our goals and while we may be working to submit ourselves to Christ, we should also remember that our flesh is still very much alive and well. In medicine, the traits of envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition can raise their ugly heads in a variety of ways. We may become jealous of a partner who is more popular with patients. We may become envious of the gifting of a colleague. We may consciously or unconsciously develop monetary goals for our practice, or come to expect a certain level of notoriety from being a physician.
The possibilities for envy, rivalry, or selfish ambition to be manifested through us are endless.
To the extent that we allow these traits to take root in our hearts, we will open ourselves to their effect. We will become anxious, frustrated and depressed. We will be robbed of the joy that the Lord promises us.
Paul reminds us that love is the only true motivation for ministry. The word Paul uses for love here is agape…other-centered love.
As you engage in the ministry of medicine, remember to do it with agape love, seeking what is best for those around you. Seek the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit to move from self-centered motivations to agape love.
Prayer: Lord, help me replace my selfish motivations with love as I seek to minister to patients today.