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This post is especially for my fellow pastors, but it would be thoughtful reading for anyone in a leadership position.
Let me state it simply: Pastor, you need to watch out for pride.
Listen to the words of A.W. Tozer—
“A clergyman is a man, and often he has a proud little kingdom of his own, a kingdom of position and often of pride and sometimes with power.”
Pride is so insidious that it can creep into the hearts of leaders at anytime.
- When things are going well. We think to ourselves, “Look what I’ve done” or we even spiritualize it a bit to say, “Look what God’s done through me.”
- When things are going poorly. Pride causes us to look out the window at others, instead of looking in the mirror at ourselves.
- When we’ve successfully handled a situation. We think, “Wow, I’ve really got it!”
- When we’ve dropped the ball and we make excuses instead of asking for forgiveness.
- And on and on it goes….
One of the things that has helped me immensely is the thoughts Kenneth Blanchard and Phil Hodges shared in their book Lead Like Jesus. They point out that every leader has an ego. The issue is what kind of ego is it?
It can be negative: E.G.O. = Edging God Out
It can be positive: E.G.O. = Exalting God Only
So what do we do to make sure we have the God-honoring E.G.O.?
- Look in the mirror. James says the Bible is the perfect mirror. So how does your life line up with the Scripture? Don’t sugarcoat it … Don’t make excuses … Say the words “Look at me” or “Wow, I’ve got it” out loud. Do you find those in God’s Word? If not, root it out!
- Get some tough guys around you. You need some loving people around you that aren’t the ones writing your press releases. You need people around you that can boldly say, “Ahem! You appear to be getting off track.”
- Monitor your gut-level responses. If you feel defensive, or if you feel the need to justify or make excuses, watch out because that’s pride’s signature.
- Stay on your knees. Not only in prayer, but in service too. It’s awfully hard to get full of yourself when you’re washing feet, or scrubbing toilets. If you ever think any job is beneath you, watch out because you may have been infected by pride.
“Depth under depth of self-love and self-admiration. Pride! It was through Pride that the devil became the devil; it is the complete anti-God state of mind. Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. Pride is a spiritual cancer.” —C.S. Lewis
I have two companion chapters in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter that dive deeper into this topic: “A confident leader’s attitude adjustment” and “A humble leader’s attitude adjustment.” I hope you will pick up a copy.
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December 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm
Well put, Grasshopper…
October 10, 2021 at 1:53 pm
In a great heart-check article for pastors, Greg Morse opens with these words, “I often need to check myself as to whether I am placing the emphasis on ‘the Lord’s ministry through me’ or ‘the Lord’s ministry through me.’ … I am not talking about the holy ambition proper to a minister who loves souls and the glory of Christ (Romans 15:20). I am talking about a self-congratulatory spirit that pats oneself on the back and thinks better of the work simply because it is his.” Pastors, please read this whole post prayerfully.