But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you! However, I do have one request—that each of you give me an earring from the plunder you collected from your fallen enemies.” (The enemies, being Ishmaelites, all wore gold earrings.)
“Gladly!” they replied. They spread out a cloak, and each one threw in a gold earring he had gathered from the plunder. The weight of the gold earrings was forty-three pounds, not including the royal ornaments and pendants, the purple clothing worn by the kings of Midian, or the chains around the necks of their camels.
Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.
The ephod started out with good intentions, but soon became Israel’s focus of worship. The truth is we have ephods we worship in our ministries and leadership. As we get deeper in discipleship and church leadership, we should have less idols in our life, but sometimes the opposite is true. I have seen this happen many times in ministry especially among younger leaders. We write a song out of great intentions and then find ourselves worshiping the song and not God. Whether it be a communicator, program, sermon, style, conference, we unfortunately have the ability to make idols out of everything! The only way we will not worship idols is to ask tough questions because those tough questions will lead to true deep life change in our hearts and in our character.
I want to encourage you to check your heart with a few questions:
1. Honestly… Why do I do what I do?
2. Honestly…. Why do I like what I like?
3. Honestly… Why do I dislike what I dislike?
4. Is God honestly pleased with my intentions and with the attitude of my heart?
If I could go back in time to these Israelites, I would tell them to draw close to God, not the ephod and I want to say the same thing to you. Never draw close to ministry and let the overflow of your ministry go to God. Draw close to God and let your love for God overflow into your ministry.