During my lifetime, something strange and unsettling has infected the American church. It’s killing us.
In some ways this thing is the flip side of the human weakness I addressed in the last blogpost–fear. But this other one is more unseemly. It is pride.
For some, church ministry has turned from servanthood and tending the flock, to a chase for personal fame. The thought seems to be, “God is leading me to make a name for myself.”
Pride beckons some to center their ministry around a perceived personal gift. So, growing the ministry means finding a way to attract more fans to the personality. Ministries become known by the name and gifts of the personality–rather than the name and gifts of the Lord. “Multi- site” churches sprout, but the spotlight shines on the singular personality who is beamed to multiple locations via high definition media.
Some feel overqualified for “just my church.” They long for a wider audience, jostling for invitations to speak at conferences, write books, make records, or simply become known.
Pride infects not only those who crave the spotlight, but also the fans who adore the famous. Some of these fans won’t take ministry initiative unless it comes from their admired Super Church personality first.
Growth in the pride enterprise has not led to growth in the church.
There’s no happy ending for pride. It eventually destroys everyone it seduces. And ministries marinated in pride, no matter how popular they may appear today, are not sustainable. They are, after all, built on falable, temptable, temporary human beings.
Jesus, the sustainable and rightful centerpoint of any ministry, spoke directly about pride in ministry. When his disciples pridefully argued about who was the greatest among them, Jesus set the standard. Using a little child as a visual, he said, “Whoever is least among you is really the greatest.”
So, do you want to be great–in biblical proportions? Resist prideful ambition. Take your name off the marquee. Beware of big shots. Serve humbly where God planted you. Put Him in the spotlight.