Written by Perry Noble Pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC
Danger #1 – Jealousy
Every leader, at some point along the way, will be tempted to be jealous–period.
Being a leader often means that we are out front…and when we see others get out in front of us many times the result is NOT celebration but frustration.
SO…we get jealous…but disguise that jealousy in conversations with other leaders as “concern.” (Which…if we were REALLY concerned with another person and/or ministry…wouldn’t we just talk to them rather than talk about them?)
Being jealous is an extreme danger because it is a sin rooted in a heart that refuses to give God thanks for all He has done…and instead focuses on what He is doing for others…and begins to covet. (Remember Saul became outraged when he was credited with thousands and David his tens of thousands…and that jealousy was the beginning of the end for him!)
I believe the last thing that God wants pastors to do is sit around the locker room and compare…unfortunately…come guys just can’t seem to snap out of that scenario. Their “chenis envy” (as my friend Los says) gets the best of them…and instead of focusing on reaching the world for Christ they begin interrogation tactics on ANY ministry that is seeing success in order that they can justify why they are so much better than the other guy!
How do we combat jealousy? Simple…two things…
#1 – Celebrate the success of others – seriously, when another church succeeds–CELEBRATE! The last thing the body of Christ needs is churches and leaders taking shots at one another and disguising it as “protecting the body” when it is really that leaders damaged ego because he perceives that the “glory may be fading!”
#2 – Don’t let yourself switch to negative mode automatically – One of the things that really drives me up the wall is when a church begins to experience some success and you begin a conversation about that particular church with another leader–who automatically begins to say things like…
“Yeah…well, I know the real story going on there.”
“I’m sure those salvation’s/baptisms aren’t real.”
“All they do is steal ideas from other churches.”
I could go on…but you get the point.
I’ve got to be honest…there are people in the leadership world that I can’t have a conversation with anymore because they are always so negative when it comes to the success of other ministries and leaders. Folks…THAT is the result of a lethal combonation of insecurity AND pride!
Let me say it again…when someone else succeeds…CELEBRATE; after all, we play for the same COACH, we’re on the same team!
Because…if we don’t learn to celebrate success we may cease to see it because God knows our motives are not about “HE” or “we” but rather all about “me!”
One more thing…leaders…pride is DANGEROUS…and MUST be CONSTANTLY fought against by us BEGGING JESUS to give us a humble heart AND NEVER FORGETTING WHERE HE FOUND US AND HOW FAR HE HAS BROUGHT US!!! (I Corinthians 6:9-11 is a great reminder for me personally.) ONLY JESUS knows whether or not we have a heart that is both humble and fully His.
Danger #2 – Ignorance
One of my biggest downfalls as a leader have been the times when I have assumed to know the ENTIRE story simply based on a SMALL PIECE of information, thus causing me to pass judgment because I thought I knew it all.
It’s sad…but ignorance is running rampant in Christian leadership circles.
Recently I have seen a lot of people take shot at some of the pastors of Outreach’s magazine’s list they came out with of the fastest growing and largest churches in America…and its been heartbreaking because of what has been said about many of the leaders on that list.
Here’s the deal…I know a lot of guys on that list…and they really are men who are in love with Jesus and really are more concerned with REPENTANCE than ATTENDANCE. They really do love the church and the Gospel and are trying to fulfill the Great Commission…but because they are seemingly experiencing some success people want to take shots at them.
(WHICH…is CRAZY!!! The church seems to be the only thing in the world that, if one is successful, people attack and demean it rather than celebrate it. AND…doesn’t Scripture clearly say in MULTIPLE places that we are to make known what God has done and is doing among the nations…and celebrate HIS work LOUDLY!!! “Christians” don’t celebrate with others well…but unfortunately we do “mourn” pretty good with others!)
If the church can’t celebrate…who can? I think we live in a sad day when church leaders will show more excitement over a sports team winning an eternally insignificant game than a church that is seeing more and more people come to know Christ!
Leaders–we can’t assume to know the whole story if we don’t actually know the whole story!
I’ve got to be honest here…the complete ignorance of the statement, “well, if people are coming to that church and it is growing then they must not be preaching the truth” has always blown me away because, well, because of the BOOK OF ACTS!
The disciples preached the “truth,” proclaimed Jesus…without fear or without shame…and THOUSANDS of lives were changed! (And, in contrast…the religious system of the day happened to be the ones not seeing the results, thus launching them into jealousy!) Just because a church is growing doesn’t mean they aren’t preaching the truth…it might actually mean they are preaching more truth than you!
Leaders…we can’t pretend to know everything about a church or ministry leader because of a five minute YouTube clip…or ONE blog article…or because someone who knew someone who was “there” told us what happened.
Let’s just make the committment to KNOW what we’re talking about before we talk about it…and let’s not assume to know someone if we don’t actually know them!
#3 – Pride
(Yes, I know that I wrote about pride a couple of days ago…but I felt like it deserved a lot more attention because of the danger that it really does present.)
Pride is something that God hates…and yet as leaders we are all SO IN DANGER of being lured in by it’s grasp. (James 4:6, I Peter 5:5, Proverbs 8:13, Isaiah 13:11, Daniel 4:37)
Here’s the tricky thing…when someone says, “You are not humble” and you respond by saying, “yes I am,” you lose! (I dealt with that in this article I wrote several months ago!)
Pride is tricky…it tells us the game is different for us, that we do not need to be serious about any sort of integrity because, after all, this ministry would not survive without us!
Pride tells us that we are always right and “they” are always wrong…and so we must attack and tear apart because if everyone were more like us then the world would be a perfect place.
It tells us to treat the staff as servants and not friends because, after all, all of them exist to help me build my Kingdom…not serve with one another to build His.
It tells us that we should be more concerned with the national audience and thus preach and lead for them instead of THE CHURCH that God has given us direct stewardship over…thus the obsession becomes being “discovered” by the world and not being “developed” by Jesus.
It tells us that more and more pictures of us all over the church and the website is a good thing because, after all, it is important that everyone understand who we are.
It tells us that speaking truth isn’t popular; therefore, it is extremely important to keep certain people in the church happy–thus causing us to “respect” them so much that we actually disrespect Jesus and His call on our lives. (Jeremiah 1:17)
It tells us that we have arrived, that we are above certain people, and that if our ministry is larger than theirs then we can’t learn anything from them.
It tells us that we are actually the smartest person in our church/organization…thus causing us to walk into meetings with our minds made up, totally neglecting the fact that God has surrounded us with collective wisdom that far outweighs our gifting and experiences.
It tells us to listen to EVERYONE…and to let the opinion of those who know us the least shape us the most because, after all, we just want people to be happy.
It tells us to not submit to any type of authority whatsoever because we know better than “them!”
It tells us that the reason we are experiencing success in ministry is because WE are THAT good…not because HE IS THAT GOOD!!!
It tells us that we can’t admit that something is wrong because it will make us look bad…and that can’t happen because our image is way more important than the church!
It tells us that God actually owes us blessings and favor.
It tells us that the reason God is blessing us more than others is because we are more godly than they are.
It tells us that we are experts and deserve to be treated as such.
Pride is a LIAR…it is DECEPTIVE…and every leader has been bitten by it MULTIPLE times.
II Corinthians 4:1 has been HUGE for me in my battle with pride…it is through HIS mercy that I have this ministry…
His mercy pursued me when I ran from Him.
His mercy rescued me!
His mercy called me!
His mercy gifted me!
His mercy blessed me!
His mercy surrounded me with people smarter and godlier than me!
His mercy has opened doors for me!
His mercy is THE REASON that I have ANYTHING good in my life.
Pride is lethal…we can’t allow it to take us captive and drag us down…there is just too much at stake.