Ego always lurks at the door of even the finest ministers of the gospel. In fact, my experience is that the godliest leaders are the ones most aware of this reality. To be honest, though, gospel workers who struggle here often do so honestly—because ministry has a way of pushing us toward ego at times. Here are some reasons why:
- We believe God has called us to this work. No matter how humbling this truth should be for all of us, it’s not a far drive into ego when we truly believe the almighty God has chosen us for His work. It’s easy to cross the line even while we talk otherwise.
- Some believers even call us a “man of God.” I’m honored to be identified that way, but I also recognize that some part of me likes that identification. Every believer is, of course, a man or woman of God, but that identify for gospel workers alone can be alluring.
- Denominations often recognize those who are “successful” in ministry. Do well, in fact, and you might be asked to speak in a conference . . . where few others are on the platform . . . and where others long to be. It doesn’t take much to think you’re something when others tell you you’re something.
- When we’ve been in a ministry setting for some time, we sometimes become the community’s pastor. Folks know our face and our name. Community leaders reach out to us for advice. Other pastors look to us as they learn the community culture. We become a significant part of the community – and people beyond our own congregation affirm us. The battle with pride is near at hand.
- Social media and the Internet only make this battle harder. Assuming others appreciate and speak publicly about our ministry, of course, we can quickly find affirmation in positive posts and tweets. Only the humblest of us aren’t at least tempted to read them more than once.
- Our pastoral heroes are sometimes “ministry megastars,” even if they don’t want to be. My heroes—who are some of the humble men I have ever met—still have ministry resumes of pastoring large churches and holding significant denominational positions. I doubt I could carry these responsibilities without ego ever pulling on me.
- It’s easy to accomplish much ministry in our own power. I understand that only God can work through us in a way that fully honors Him, but I’m still convinced we can do much on our own—without our congregation ever knowing our self-dependence. When we “succeed” in our own strength, we also at least internally claim the glory.
Even as I type these words, I realize my battle is an ongoing one for which I need your prayers. How about you?