While I was in the army, I was stationed in Korea during the 1970s. I remember vividly visiting what was then a church of a few thousand people pastured by Dr. Paul Cho. I was so impressed by seeing the sight of thousands gathered in fervent prayer. More than two decades later, I was privileged to again visit that great church, now with hundreds of thousands of members.

I sat across the table from Dr. Cho at a restaurant in downtown Seoul, South Korea. “Tell me, Pastor Cho,” I asked, “What is the number one key to having an effective ministry around the globe?” “Brother,” he replied in his beautifully accented English, “you must understand that you cannot help Jesus Christ, but you can hinder Him. Jesus sees your ministry; He wants to show you His.”

Honestly, he stripped the gears of my mind. I remember going back to my hotel room lost in thought. “I can’t help Jesus? But I thought I was one of the good guys who helped Him! Isn’t it Satan who hinders Jesus?” As I meditated on what that dear brother had said, I came to realize a powerful and life-changing truth. We often ask God to remove the outside barriers that we think are keeping us from seeing His power when in truth the biggest barrier is self.

When we pray to God for more faith and more power are we doing His work or are we asking Him to empower our flesh to do what we think should be done? Paul taught that the kingdom of God is not found in things of the flesh, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). My life and ministry changed forever when I stopped asking God to bless what my flesh was doing and started asking Him to bless what He was doing. It’s not what we’re doing that brings the blessing, but rather finding out what Jesus is doing and being part of that work that brings the blessing.

We rebuke the devil when often what we perceive as his attacks are instead self-inflicted wounds from our disobedience and self-focus. When we try to use religious pride to enter what we perceive as the presence of God, we become judgmental and arrogant because of what we think we know. The devil cannot stop the work and ministry of Jesus Christ, but if he can manipulate us into self-centered satisfaction, he can keep us from joining effective ministry.