Paul’s prayer arises out of passionate affection that seeks the good of others—not their praise, gratitude, acceptance, and still less some sense of professional self-fulfillment. This is extraordinarily important. Often when someone expatiates on how wonderful it would be to be back home with loved ones, we are listening not only to protestations of love but also to confessions of loneliness or dislocation. We like to be with those we love because in most instances they are the ones who love us. They make us feel stable, cherished; when they are around, we belong.
Such a sense of home is entirely normal, and not to be despised. Unfortunately there is an ugly variation of it in the ministry. There are preachers who so loudly declare their love of preaching that it is unclear whether it is their own performance and their love of power that has captured them or their desire to minister to the men and women who listen to them. A church organist may buck every suggestion that a young, new musician be permitted to serve in this way, and pretty soon the reason becomes clear: the organist’s self-identity is so bound up with the public performance of music that any thought of serving people has been suppressed, to the point that the thought of being replaced is intolerable.
Carson, D. A. (1992). A call to spiritual reformation: priorities from Paul and his prayers (p. 82). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.