Our modern culture throws many issues at pastors today. The headlines say things like gay marriage, pornography, divorce, and burnout challenge ministry leaders the most. These are big issues for sure but I don’t think they come close to a far more sinister, rarely discussed issue that every pastor faces. In fact the Bible states that this issue causes God to oppose people – even pastors. You won’t find rallies being formed to protest it. It doesn’t make good headlines. There are no special interest groups pushing for new laws to be written about it. It doesn’t even make the list of sins that the professional rock throwers harass poor sinners over. What is it? It is a sneaky little thing called pride.
God calls leaders to servant hood. But many pastors, including myself, have HUGE egos. Pride is a danger in any position of leadership. I imagine the enemy works overtime to tempt pastors with pride because he knows God opposes the proud. If God opposes the leadership in the church, then that church is rendered ineffective for the cause of Christ.
Even subtle pride damages the church. I imagine most pastors have subtle pride. Few are flaming narcissists. But it is pride nonetheless. What exactly is so destructive about being a pride-filled pastor?
- Pride puts my agenda ahead of God’s
I have to remind myself constantly that it is not about me. It is about Jesus Christ, God’s plan, and others. My pride will cause me to miss out on the crucial factors that make ministry effective. You can’t be a good minister of Christ if you think about yourself and your agenda first. Pride puts my rights ahead of God’s plan for my life and ministry. It is impossible to be obedient and try to dictate God’s agenda.
- Pride puts me ahead of Christ
Christ ministered, led, and served in humility. I imagine we need a big dose of that in our celebrity-pastor world. Christ is the head of the church, not me.
- Pride makes me vulnerable to hurt and rejection
We all are human and have human emotions. Being human means that it hurts when people betray us, leave us, or disappoint us. But giving up my rights helps me navigate through pain and disappointment. It takes my feelings out of the equation and helps me stay in the game when things get tough.
- Pride gives me an inflated sense of importance
I believe men of God must teach the Word of God, hear from God, and lead those in their care into a deeper relationship with God. Leadership is influence and you can’t lead people without being out front. If we are not careful, though, we will fall in love with the perks of leadership. We can get an inflated sense of importance. Whenever I start feeling bigheaded I must remember that God can speak through anyone or anything. God spoke through Balaam’s ass. Being an ass is not a requirement to be a pastor but it should humble us to know that he can use any old donkey to get the job done.
- Pride damages my ability to minister to others
No one likes an egomaniac. Egomania cripples effectiveness. Our churches are filled with hurting people who need us to minister to them and lead them. Going from subtle pride to powerful humility empowers God-honoring leadership. Humility enables me to lay aside ulterior motives, insecurity, sensitivity, and the fear of man. It frees me to speak the truth in love without fear or wrong motives.
Going from subtle pride to powerful humility means that I must totally surrender my attitude, my demeanor, my emotions, and my desire to achieve to God. I must see humility as power under control. God greatly uses humble leaders and gives them incredible power for his purposes.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”