by Lauren Crane
As men and women from Southeastern Seminary prepare to pour into ministries over the summer and for the rest of their lives, Daniel Akin urged them to beware of and avoid the snares that often plague ministers of the gospel.
Akin, the president of the seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., offered up words of wisdom to students during the final chapel service of the semester on Tuesday, May 12.The service, which also featured the annual presentation of awards, was the last one in which Akin might be able to impart some words to those who are finishing their studies at Southeastern.
“In his amazing grace, God called us to salvation,” Akin said. “In his amazing mercy, he has called us to service. To be a servant of King Jesus is a high and awesome calling. It is one filled with dangers, snares and quicksand, miraculously, many of our own making.”
Teaching out of 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Akin focused on the problems that plague many ministers of the gospel, including pride, quarreling, ambition and greed. These snares, Akin said, reveal themselves in both wordsand actions.
“You must be alert and on guard against these particular snares which will destroy your ministry,” Akin said. “They should not be allowed even a toe-hold in your lives.”
The first snare Paul warns against in the passage, Akin said, is that of ungodly pride. Instead of seeing oneself as unable to offer anything good to God, the misconception is that “he actually thinks he is something, when in reality, he is nothing.” This wrong thinking will lead to wrong living, Akin said. He said Paul is in the text painting a picture of a spiritually sick person who leaves behind healthy doctrine and the gospel message and then descends into pride.
“Pride is a sickness that affects every cell. Stay tethered to the gospel to stay away from the sin of unhealthy pride.”
Akin said the goal of pride is the total infestation of the body of Christ and that “war words” are the malady and symptom. Prideful people are – too often – “obsessed with arguments over words,” he said.
Not only do these battles over words cause dissension among believers, they also affect the goal of the church in reaching the lost, Akin said. “You would rather use those words to fight brothers and sisters in Christ than to evangelize those outside the body of Christ. This lifestyle brings about constant friction, wearing out the body of Christ and causing pain.”
Akin said that once pride has manifested itself into war words, people will move into an area in which they think nothing matters but themselves. “Then, you begin to move into a realm where godliness is a means of personal gain.
“Few things contribute to ministerial demise as much as personal ambition,” Akin said. “If you’re lifting yourself up from the pulpit, week after week, you’re inevitably putting Jesus down.”
Paul warns believers against this kind of ungodly ambition, telling people to be content with who they are in Christ and what they have in Christ.
“We need to have such a confidence in God that no matter where we are or what we have, we are and we have all we need in Jesus,” Akin said.
Being content with what God gives is vital to avoiding the sin of unbridled greed, another snare for ministers, Akin said. Just as Paul warned against the love of money in the passage, Akin said it is important for ministers of the gospel to not love anything more than the Lord, and to not serve anything but God.
“Greed will destroy you. Those who desire to be rich will be snared and drowned in the waters of foolish lusts,” Akin said. “I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count my friends who have lost their ministries because they became ensnared by love of money or sex or both.
“You will inflict upon yourself a mortal wound of pain and sorrow.”
Akin said, “Sin always makes us stupid. We deceive ourselves and find ourselves tragically disappointed.”
Quoting Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, Akin said, “‘Stay close to Jesus and stay clean in your personal life,’ and those snares won’t sink the people of God.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.