Pride is the number one reason that Christians quit serving the Lord, and it is the number one reason that spiritual leaders fall out of the ministry. Pride can produce an angry spirit, immorality, secret sin, marital strife, excessive debt, and a host of other “surface reasons” that people stop serving the Lord.
I’ve been recently studying the life of Paul and especially his longevity in the ministry. How did he avoid the trap of pride?
1. He did not overvalue himself.
Sometimes we become our own greatest hindrance. Either we don’t feel like we’ve accomplished enough, or we feel others should applaud us for what we have accomplished.
In contrast, Paul said, “neither count I my life dear unto myself” (Acts 20:24). The only hope of a decreasing self is an increasing Christ.
The reason that we quit serving is because we wanted something out of it in the first place. Beware of expectations! And be careful to want to glorify Christ more than wanting self-gratification!
2. He relied on the Holy Spirit.
We can manufacture results to a certain point, but those results always produce pride. Eventually the pride will be our downfall, and the results will dwindle. God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
But when we humbly allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, the fruit is all to His glory. And we have the grace-enabled strength to continue serving through the varied seasons of life and ministry.
3. He valued the ministry.
Despising the demands of ministry is a sign of pride. It reveals unmet expectations and a sense that we are giving too much of ourselves.
Paul gave himself unreservedly to the Lord, and he rejoiced in the opportunity to serve in the ministry. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).
4. He wanted to finish with joy.
Pride is a joy-sapper. It either sucks our joy upfront by causing us to be discontent and burdened. Or it sucks our joy when we fall through the sins of pride. Either way, pride is a terrible fiend to the Christian who is determined to finish their race with joy.
One of the reasons that Paul determined to not overvalue self and to let “none of these things move me” was “so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:24).
Oh, to finish our ministry with the joy-filled humility with which we began it!