Saturday, June 5, 2010

6 Dangers of Zeal

Hey! I love zeal. There’s nothing better than grasping a vital issue and sprinting passionately with it. It gives zing to life and an exhilarating sense of making a difference for God’s Kingdom. And I’m drawn to people with zeal. I know that they are going somewhere and I want to help them get there!

As much as I love zeal I’ve come to realize some of the dangers of zeal. I’ve observed the blinding nature of zeal throughout the Book of Acts. Many of the people to whom Paul preached were unable to hear the truth because they were zealously clinging to their form of truth. But unbelievers don’t have a corner on blinding zeal. I’ve seen it in the church. I’ve seen it in missions. And I’ve seen it in me. I’ve seen zeal prevent missionaries from hearing others and miss the opportunity of understanding or softening one another’s stand on issues. I’ve observed individual zeal over issues erode relationships and bring cooperative ministry to a grating halt.

Here’s my observation - if we are so passionate about our ideas that we can’t get along with other believers then there is probably something wrong. Zeal can be dangerous. Here are six dangers I’ve identified.

1. The danger of losing perspective. We can become short-sighted, seeing only the issues close to our hearts. We tend to see everything through our passionate concern without seeing the bigger picture and the value of other issues that contribute to making the Kingdom of God relevant to our generation. Our zeal can also cut us off from perspectives that could soften our approach and bring healthy balance. Zeal must remain open to others

2. The danger of being more committed to an idea than to biblical relationships with people. Jesus never pitted righteous zeal against compassion and unity. He clearly taught and modeled both.

3. The danger of being more committed to our issue than to God. In our zeal to promote our ideas, strategies, or vision there is the danger of plunging ahead without heeding the gentle voice of the Spirit to bring balance and correction. We are in danger of slashing away with our sword only to find we are fighting alone without God. Zeal for God should move us with God.

4. The danger of becoming more loyal to an idea than to our working group. This danger is so subtle. We can become so enamored with our righteous stand on an issue that we end up alienating ourselves from the very people we need to work with. Zeal must be blended with humility and meekness.

5. The danger of becoming “unmanageable.” Unrestrained zeal can prevent us from the mutual submission needed to meld a body of believers together. Our zeal should never become the authoritative force in our lives. Openness to others’ ideas will enable us to blend with team members and yield to leaders.

6. The danger of inflexible pride. Such pride puts walls between us and others and can lead to independence and rebellion. Zeal mixed with pride is a deadly toxin to relationships with leaders and team members. Zeal mixed with humility unleashes healthy energy into a team.

What do you so passionately advocate to the point that you could fall trap to the dangers of zeal?

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