10 Internal Signs of a Leadership Ego Problem

Some people are openly arrogant. Even if they don’t always recognize it, others quickly see it in them. I hope, though, that church leaders would not be among that number. On the other hand, many of us struggle privately with ego. To help you determine if that’s the case for you, here are some signs honest, vulnerable pastors have shared with me over the years:

  1. You get jealous when others have a bigger church than you do. The jealousy’s especially acute if you believe you’re more gifted than somebody else. 
  2. You don’t usually talk about it, but you want others to know how hard you work for the gospel. This desire for affirmation is often also an expression of pride. 
  3. You think about subtle ways to talk about your church when it has a high attendance. Even if you never say anything, you wish you could.  
  4. You don’t understand why only big church pastors get invited to speak. This issue is a systemic issue in some denominations, but our own feelings about it sometimes reveal pride. 
  5. You’re always watching for opportunities to move to a more prestigious ministry. You keep your ears to the ground even when you love the current church you’re leading. 
  6. You internally judge everybody when they preach or teach. Honest, helpful critique is one thing; always finding something wrong with everyone else’s efforts is another matter. It’s pride. 
  7. You fight against name-dropping. Assuming you know some well-known leaders, the fact that you battle against letting others know is also evidence of pride. You fight it because it’s real. 
  8. You’re fairly certain that most other people aren’t as smart as you are. You probably don’t say it that openly, but you still think it. 
  9. You talk yourself out of accountability and vulnerability. You know that both are important, but primarily for people who are just losing battles. They’re not for you. 
  10. You don’t spend much time in personal, private prayer. Non-praying leaders are essentially saying, “I can handle all this on my own.” That’s ego. 

What other signs might you add? Where do you see yourself in this list?  


  • Landon Coleman says:

    Great post. Challenging post.

  • Michael Majors says:

    Thank you for this entry. As an aspiring church leader currently in seminary I look at this as a cautionary list for those things that don’t already apply to me. Many of these items can be tweaked in wording and then this list can apply to every believer! I am glad for your ministry and for the challenge this list has presented to me. Number 10 is the most applicable for me, as I am just now (after reading this) developing a plan for pointed prayer, rather than mere “come what may” kind of praying. I think you could also add Bible reading, as in non-study related, to number 10. Excellent post!

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