You never struggle with an ego problem, do you?
No, of course not. Ego problems are for athletes and celebrities. CEOs and politicians. Maybe from time to time you find a head deacon or a retired pastor in your church who thinks their way is the best way, but that’s not you, the humble servant of God, right?
Of course, I don’t know you, and I’m certainly not in a place to judge you. But I know me. And I know other humans. Other sinners. And it might be a safe bet to say that there could be some internal ego struggles going on that you may not even be aware of. Here is a short checklist handy for all pastors to see how they may be dealing with an ego problem that they didn’t even know was there.
- Are you overwhelmed with ministry work that falls outside the categories of prayer and sharing the gospel? Are you running a lot of meetings, making too many hospital visits, handling more administrative and media work than you used to? If so, could it be because you don’t trust others to handle it as well as you? Remember Acts 6, when a complaint rose up that widows were being overlooked at the dinner table. The disciples said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” And here we have the distinguishing between elders and deacons. If you are not already, you must entrust reputable men and women in your church to handle many of the day-to-day activities in your church so that you can remain focused on “the word of God.” Swallow your pride, recognize the ego keeping you from doing this and find help today.
- Are you a numbers guy? Do you like to keep track of attendance, visitors, decisions made, baptisms? Even worse, do these numbers get discussed in church meetings in relation to how things are going in the church? Is last Sunday’s sermon a success if it leads to a certain amount of decisions made and a bust if everyone walks out of the service without acknowledging any work of the Spirit in them that day? Might I suggest to stop thinking by way of numbers and simply remember what God said in Isaiah 55:11: “[My word] will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Who are we to decide on “the matter for which I sent it” means regarding your last sermon? Do not hang your head low or assure yourself “I’m the man!” based on numbers. That is your ego talking there. Trust in God and the power of the gospel to transform hearts, not you.
- Take a look at your church covenant and by-laws. Read again your church’s mission statement. Take a gander at your library of resources that are taught on in small groups and Sunday school. Think through the Sunday worship schedule and the worship style at your church. Is there anything there that didn’t come straight from you and your recommendations? Is there anything a part of your church that took some discussion among other leaders in order to persuade you in that direction? Or is everything there all you, all your leadership, all your decisions? There is one Head of the church, and that is Jesus. The rest of us (and that includes you) are merely parts of the body that Jesus intended to work together and use our differences to complement one another. Does your church show a group of believers complementing each other or simply one believer—you? There could be an ego problem at play here that you haven’t recognized before.
Don’t get too down on yourself if you are recognizing new ego problems now that you weren’t previously aware of. It’s only human to mess up. But it’s godly to admit faults and make changes. Today, don’t ask if you have an ego problem; instead ask where you are struggling with an ego. And don’t forget to wait and listen for the answer. Because it’s coming.
Kevin Harvey is the author of two books, his most recent being All You Need to Know about the Bible in Pop Culture. He also writes at BibleInPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter under the name @PopCultureKevin.