“Humble voices always carry the furthest.” – Bob Goff
I’ve been reading through Luke this month. As I was recently reading through chapter 18, I was reminded of a convicting parable. And I think the story has some particular poignancy for church leaders.
The story is found in Luke 18:9-14: the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. In this parable, both men go up to the temple to pray. The pharisee speaks to God out of pride, praising himself for his religious achievements. The tax collector speaks to God in humility, saying nothing except, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
But the clincher comes at the end, when Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let that sink in for a second.
I’m sure you’ve heard pastors use this passage to talk about pride. In fact, you may have preached through this passage yourself. So I won’t spend time walking through it. But how often do you consider pride in your role as a church leader? This can often be a challenge, especially for leaders with big personalities. Pride roots itself deep in our hearts in unique and challenging ways.
The congregation looks up to you. Your staff looks to you for direction. You are a spiritual leader. Without intention, it’s easy for a leader to develop unhealthy pride in their religious achievement and example (remember the pharisee?).
However, there are some healthy practices each of us can put into place to keep pride from finding a place in our hearts:
1) Empower others to lead.
One of the best ways to keep pride from creeping into your leadership is to give leadership away. Invest into those who are younger than you. Empower volunteers to lead more of your ministries. Not only does this benefit you as a leader, but your church as a whole moving forward.
Are you intentionally developing leaders within your church?
2) Remember you can’t do it alone.
God gives each of us different spiritual gifts and natural talents for a reason. The Church was created to be a tight-knit community of people who lean on one another.
Are you empowering your team to use their gifts and talents?
3) Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
As a leader, every decision made (and the way you make it) affects the people you are leading. Don’t forget to think through how others feel about the decisions you make and your approach to leadership. Carefully consider how you are coming across to those around you. (And don’t be afraid to ask.)
How does your current approach to leadership affect those you lead?
4) Check your heart for pride.
Pride is an enemy of growth. Personal growth. Church growth. You name it. Pride keeps us inwardly-focused and outwardly ineffective. Regularly take some time to prayerfully consider where pride resides in your heart. And find some trusted people who will graciously tell you the truth when you can’t see it.
When was the last time you spent time in prayer about unacknowledged pride?