Pastors, Let Us Be Terrified of Pride
November 10, 2014
“You didn’t build that.”
Those rather infamous words, some of you will remember, were spoken by our President to business owners about their businesses. And while those words are terribly misguided when applied to business owners they need to ring in the ears of every pastor who has ever experienced anything that could be construed as success.
Numeric growth is much more fun than numeric decline. I know. I’ve experienced both. But let us never confuse numeric growth with health. Certainly there are times when the growth of a church indicates health. But there are plenty of false teachers who preside over massive churches. There are also pastors who love and lead God’s people faithfully who will never headline a conference because their church isn’t big enough.
Pastors have been taught by the Evangelical Industrial Complex that big equals healthy. And these outward trappings of success become kindling for the pastors’ pride.
Once you wade through all the posturing and boasting coming from MacDonald and Driscoll (Man, I admire Mark Dever’s patience!) you can’t miss the conclusion that what animates these men is the size of their churches. “All challenges are laid waste in the stunning light of my church’s attendance!” Of course the facts have a way of debunking the hype. In mere weeks after Driscoll’s resignation from Mars Hill the whole thing imploded. Remember this pastor: if the church you serve is, practically speaking, “your church” then it will fold when you are gone.
It is true that there are Monday morning pastors who think they know what a pastor needs to do to avoid losing the big game. But Pastor Morris’s confidence is quite troubling. The fact is he does not know how to build a healthy church. He may know those qualities or marks of which a healthy church consists. He may, by God’s grace, possess certain gifts which have been a blessing to his church. But the only coherent reply to Pastor Morris is, “You didn’t build that.” And if he did build Gateway Church then that place is in trouble. Jesus builds his church.
Of course Driscoll and Morris give all pastors an opportunity that we dare not miss. We ought to possess enough self-awareness to know that the same pride on display in the above video lurks in our own hearts. I suspect that every pastor of a growing church has heard the ugly whisper in his ear: “Look what you’ve accomplished.”
The reputation of Christ has been dragged through the mud in recent months due to the debacle in Seattle. Few pastors will sit upon a throne as large as Mark Driscoll’s. But it is not only the meta-pastor who must be terrified of pride. All of us pastors have the capacity to do great damage to the church and the reputation of our Lord.
The pride of the men in those videos, while certainly damaging, is not my church’s biggest problem. My pride is a far greater threat.
To Hell with our boasting.
To Hell with our pride.