It has been a few decades since I suffered through those appallingly self-conscious teenage years, but I remember them well; the days when seeing a zit in the middle of my forehead could ruin an entire day, when I was so concerned with my own appearance I was no good to anyone and not much fun to be around, either.
I never felt responsible for my negative attitude because I was the poor victim. As a teenager I had no sense of perspective, I saw only what I thought was a major affliction, without realizing it was my own self-absorption making me miserable.
Blessedly, I’ve finally matured enough to recognize self-consciousness as the manifestation of vanity and ego triumphing over concern for others. I had to pull my face away from the mirror first, though.
A little introspection is good for us. It lets us compare our reality with our Christian goal of living a more Christ-like life, but too much time spent gazing into a mirror is dangerous. It is hard to see where you are going, for one thing.
Using time and money to focus on the ministry itself, even on improvements, must be approached with caution, however, because it takes limited resources away from those we serve. Time spent in introspection and self-evaluation should result in tangible benefits to the recipients of the ministry.
One sign of maturity is the ability to forget one’s self in the service of others. Another is when we can overlook slights suffered in the performance of the good work. Members of a healthy ministry team have a desire, and the responsibility, to set aside self-interest and serve. Leaders of the ministry must make wise decisions directing most of the ministry’s resources to those being served.
To be sure, ministry self-care is needed for a healthy, vital ministry, but when self-care becomes self-consciousness or self-absorption, it is time to put down the mirror and get back to work.