Jesus opens pastor’s eyes to stronghold of performance
J faithfully shepherded God’s flock of believers and always tried to set a good example for everyone in his church. Unbeknown to himself, J carried a heavy load and had been feeling spiritually weary. As J humbled himself before God and allowed the Holy Spirit to search his heart, he finally saw the stranglehold a spirit of performance had on his ministry and his family. J experienced new joy and freedom as he repented and renewed his heart in Christ. Praise God!
My first prayer ministry session was three years ago.
Through prayer, God has broken strongholds in my life and has brought freedom to my relationships with people around me. I thank God for revealing Himself to me, as a loving father. I thank Him for loving me, accepting me, forgiving me and redeeming me.
As I was preparing for the second prayer ministry, I sought the Lord’s assistance on the state of my relationship with Him. He revealed how my upbringing opened the path to spiritual strongholds of performance and pride. Growing up, my parents encouraged my siblings and me to work hard at school and with our household chores and they rewarded us for good performance.
Looking back, I now see that this created a desire to find fulfilment in achievement – rather than in God.
As a student, I always did well in my exams. At about age 14, I felt hurt when my parents were indifferent to my good report card. I expected to be praised and was not. I felt hurt due to my unfulfilled expectations. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that at the time I was seeking man’s praise and the acceptance only God could give.
Later in life, my teaching gift was twisted by pride which led me to judge those who did not act according to the word of God. I was not using my gift of pastoring to lovingly bring them to God’s truths and comfort: Our Heavenly Father calls us to be his children and depend on him; our worth is not in the things we do or do not do.
God has reconfirmed the calling for me to join Him in reconciling people to Him.
My life goal is to serve our Heavenly Father as He calls me, and to love my neighbours by ministering to them as the Spirit leads.
In the prayer ministry session, I prayed that God would help me hear the Holy Spirit for direction.
As shared by the Holy Spirit through the prayer counsellor, I must not be seen to be righteous to be a good example to others: I am a work-in-progress. God accepts me in all of my brokenness. I am far from perfect. Only Jesus is perfect. I should put down the shame of showing weakness. God wants me to put down the shield that does not want to expose my brokenness so that people can see that He is working in me and see that I am a man of flesh.
God can use me as I am. I need to trust Him because only He can show me the right path – I should submit fully to Him; as He guides me daily.
God told me that He cherishes me. He freed me from chasing the things of the world; including man’s praise. God called me to put down the shield to allow me to be fearless, vulnerable, honest, true and not righteous, not right, not good. The latter things are the things this world would teach me; but being righteous, right and good is not what God is seeking from me; instead, I should trust, obey and depend on Him for the glory of His Name.
Those words of truth were a confirmation of what I had been hearing from the Holy Spirit. I needed to trust God completely.
I confessed that I go to God for big things – but not the small things that I think that I can handle by myself.
I had several strongholds which were brought down during the session: the need to make others proud of me, and feelings of failure that left me disappointed in myself.
I acknowledged that I had been led by a spirit of performance. I thanked God for using the prayer counsellors to open my eyes to something I had been blind to all along. I thought back to my own wife and children, and recognised that I placed pressure on them to perform and to be righteous – the same pressures I had placed on myself.
I was led to renounce self-righteousness.
I am human and God’s name can be glorified even when I fail and acknowledge that I am not perfect as God is still growing me spiritually. Instead of looking to myself to get things done, I need to depend on Him.
Trusting God will allow me to serve in the light; and not out of duty or heaviness. This will lead to the joy of service and prevent burnout. As I love those that I serve, I should remember to love myself as well; loving the man God uniquely created me to be, free from the fear of man.
As I prepared for baptism, I forgave myself for putting pressure on myself. I revoked the spirit of performance, the spirit of seeking the things of the world, and the pursuit of man’s praise.
Instead, I chose to be honest, true, fearless, and vulnerable.
I permitted myself to fail even when things don’t look set up for success; giving up the spirit of control.
After the prayer ministry and baptism, I asked my wife and children for forgiveness for the years I was driven by a spirit of performance.
Together with my wife, we met each of our three adult children individually. The conversation went something like this: “Please forgive us for we were not perfect in our parenting. We were – and are still – learning on the job. Please forgive us for things we may have said or failed to say; for things we may have done or failed to do. We prayed for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, and in turn, ask for your forgiveness.”
Each of our children chose to forgive us; we thank God for His peace and the intimate conversations we have had with our children since then..
It has deepened our relationships in ways that we did not imagine possible. We found peace in asking for their forgiveness and they too find peace in being honoured and respected by our request for forgiveness.
I thank the Good Lord for the freedom I now experience in Him. He has freed me from myself and the world. I thank God for continuing to teach me how to be a good son to Him. I now know that I can seek Him for big and small things, for myself as well and not just for others. Thank God, for He answered my prayers.
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