After David killed Goliath, the ladies in Israel wrote a song for him, including the line “David killed his tens of thousands” (1 Sam. 18.7). That line is a blatant and total lie. David at this stage in his career had slain a grand total of one person! Now, granted it was a giant, but it was not tens of thousands. Not only that the song referred to Saul only killing thousands. Had David not had such a deep walk with the Lord, and had he not been a humble young man, that sort of tune could go straight to his head.
I see this today a lot. Someone receives an offering with a great offering message, or preaches one great sermon, has one well received post on Facebook or Instagram, or prays one inspiring prayer – and they now think they should be the new king! They now think they are ten times as good as the current leadership of the church or the business.
Pride is a difficult issue for leaders or aspirant leaders to deal with because it can go unrecognized and work in secret. Pride is our greatest enemy as leaders and to fail to be aware of it, and to expose it, confront it, fight it and beat it, and live a life of humility will destroy your leadership. Being proud, believing your own press reports – that is one of the dumbest things leaders do.
Here are some clues that you are dealing with pride:
- You cannot delegate. Of course you can’t – no one can do anything as well as you!
- You get very upset if you are corrected. Of course – no one is smarter than you or knows better than you.
- You get upset if circumstances are tough. Of course you do – your ego is based on what is around you. If a family or two leave your church, you get upset and get aggrevated as your identity is wrapped up in your ministry. This is wrapped up in our first part of this series, worshipping your ministry.
- Inattention to detail. Because you are so wonderful, you do not need to take the same care and attention as other people. You do not prepare for your talking because you are just that good, you come in late for church, you don’t need all the worship to be ready for the Word! You genuinely believe you are that good.
- No real mentors. You do not have older, more experienced people speaking into your life. If I find a pastor without mentors, or who pays lip service to mentors who live thousands of miles away and not asking them for advice, I know I am dealing with a proud person.
- You confuse capability with character. Just because you can do a task, does not mean you have the character to stand in that place.
- You cannot operate outside of the spotlight. You need to have an audience to perform.
- You do not care about other people’s feelings. Of course not, who are they compared to you. You relate everything back to yourself and your life, you cannot read any situation except how it affects you – you do not care how it affects the kingdom of God.
- You are impatient. I have found over the years that only those who are humble last long in leadership. The proud will soon find a reason to be slighted, to be insulted, and storm off to the next church, the next business, the next job. Leaders who last are humble. They are centred in Jesus so neither people or circumstances will move them.
- You are uncomfortable at the front. Humility is not being a wallflower, it is being where you need to be and doing what needs to be done. It is not a lack of confidence, it is a confidence not in our strength or power, but confidence in Jesus and His love and His goodness. When you think you are all that and everyone is looking at you, you now feel pressure to be all that!
- You are uncomfortable being yourself. True humility respects God’s way of making you – and you need to be honest about yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.
- You struggle to worship. You are unable to worship, because you don’t know all the glory belongs to God not us! You don’t love reminding yourself that it is all about Jesus, not you. You don’t love to know that it about what He has done, not what you are doing!
We are often in the church willing to overlook pride as long as tasks are being completed. That is unacceptable. We lavish praise on certain leaders, we sing the songs about how great they are – but every David needs not the ladies’ singing, but a godly Nathan in their life saying “You are the man”. If not, they are heading towards a fall!
The way out of this mess is to turn your eyes on Jesus, and stop thinking you are able to eclipse him.
For more teaching on ego, I have a YouTube video on Ego in Leadership that I know will help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7akiy7zYww&t=155s
Do not listen to the songs they sing about you, rather think about yourself with sober judgement and realize you need to live a life of humility!