It’s been one year since we packed up our little life and moved it to a new town and home. And a year and half since we moved on to a new church. Both scenarios represented uncharted waters. The town we moved to was known to us, but the people and culture was not.
Today we know people, the culture has mostly been experienced and discovered and our home has new memories.
Ministry life always presents the possibility of uprooting but so far God’s call for us has remained pretty close to family and most friends. Which means it would be silly for me to lament here about our ministry changes being drastic, because they haven’t really been yet. One day I imagine that reality will become true for us. We’ll see.
Yet moving from one ministry to another has taught us a lot so far. Having the privilege to serve at two different but faithful church’s is a gift in so many ways but one surprising lesson has been in humility.
One thing that stick’s out to me more than anything from our experience is summed up in this verse, Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips. ~ Proverbs 27:2
We live in the era of the celebrity-pastor and although much good has come from certain Godly men having mass-influence over particularly fresh, young pastors. Sadly some negative has ridden along with the positive. And young ministry folk like us have been sucked in at times.
The desire to be the next _________ (fill in the blank with your favorite Bible teacher) has become the secret driving force of the young pastor. The pure first calling to just be a faithful preacher of the Word wherever God calls, even if it’s in a small rural church with little influence has been replaced with a larger desire to be the best preacher with a huge celebrity-like impact.
We have seen this disguised mentality plague our peer-group as well as our own heart. And it is all in the way we speak of ourselves.
I love the verse above because it does not say that we should never receive encouragement lest we become proud. We as people need to be affirmed and we need to receive encouragement. However I have learned that we should graciously accept the accolade, but not believe the hype…..lest we become proud. Let others say the kind stuff, let us receive it and then keep our mouth’s shut.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant to yourselves. ~ Philippians 2:3
My husband is a great example to me with this one. Every time he preach’s he is rushed with compliments after. And it feels great. Yet somehow he manages to see the greater picture when his head hits the pillow at night. He still knows that he is young and has much to grow in. He knows that no matter what anyone says he in so many ways is still new and by no means an “expert” . He doesn’t believe the hype. So when others ask him “how did it go”? He responds humbly.
But we both have had to learn this over time. Because when others prop us up, the temptation is to stand tall. Our new church in many ways has been an excellent agent in teaching us this one.
I think it was Paul Washer who, when asked who he thought was the best living preacher today, responded by saying something like “I don’t know, but he is probably in a jungle somewhere.” And I would have to agree with him. We shouldn’t get so carried away with the worldly idea of “great”.
Pride is a tricky thing. It is a constant battle. And it will likely never leave us.
But if we remember this verse, Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)…we all might slide carefully off that very high horse and land exactly where we deserve to stand…lest the largeness of our pride unsteady’s us to descend with an ungraceful fall.
It is a warning for us all. But be encouraged because…“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)