Overestimating Sacrifice

Oct 19, 2017 | Christian Living, Pastoring

Oxford Martyrs

I left a stable ministry position to plant a church at the age of 45. I patted myself on the back for being willing to take a risk.

The reality: I was only risking my standard of living, and not even a lot. I moved to a community I love and enjoy my work. A martyr I’m not.

Around the same time, a friend moved his wife and young children to northern Chad to work in a Muslim-majority area. I remember thinking to myself that church planting is hard, but my friend’s example helped me put things in context. It’s hard, but it’s not that hard. My friend’s sacrifice is bigger. Honestly, my position and even my sacrifices are a privilege.

My point — more to myself than to anyone else — is that we guard against overstating our level of sacrifice. It’s tempting to think that we’re sacrificing more than we are. We put lids on what we’re willing to risk because we already think we’re way out there, when in reality we’re playing things safe.

“The irony is we stand up and talk about Daniel in the lion’s den but then we won’t even confront elders,” says Andy Stanley. We follow someone who gave his life so we could live, and read about apostles who gave up their lives for the sake of the gospel, but are often overwhelmed when taking even small risks in ministry.

462 years this past Monday, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford, England. As they died, Latimer encouraged his fellow martyr. “Be of good comfort, and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

It puts our sacrifices in perspective. Others have given much. Are we prepared to risk more?

Overestimating Sacrifice

1 Comment

  1. Ken Davis

    When I went to St. John’s to plant a church I had no concept that going there was any type of sacrifice until I read an article written by my church planting director that said I had given up a promising career in Social Work to do this. Actually, I was just going back home to plant and pastor. My point here is that by labelling me as some kind of sacrificer I fell to the temptation to think wrong things about myself (“look at me – I am denying myself a better life!!”). I suspect that it may have also helped with my financial support. Several years later I was introduced at our denominational convention as a man who was working in very difficult circumstances. I had never thought about that either. But it tempted me to believe it. A nice long chat at that convention with Don Carson’s father helped me get over that. Thanks for this article. It should help us all not believe our press clippings.



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Welcome to DashHouse.com, the online home of Darryl Dash, pastor, author, blogger, and co-founder of Gospel for Life. I also write a column for The Gospel Coalition Canada.

This site exists to help people grow in life and ministry.


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