Ask anyone in ministry, and they will tell you that they want to glorify God—that glorifying God is, in fact, their chief desire for serving in ministry. 

But ask anyone in ministry who is honest, and they will also tell you that the chief obstacle to glorifying God is their own self. 

Simply put, if we want to glorify God, we must die to self. 

If we want to glorify God in ministry, we must die to self. Click To Tweet

As determined as we might be to die to self and unselfishly serve Christ, sometimes we fail to recognize how self shows up. 

When the apostle Paul wrote, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31), it wasn’t theoretical. It wasn’t that Paul just knew somewhere in the back of his mind that it was important to “die to self.” He—like every one of us—had daily reason to choose to die to self. 

Dying to self is particularly important when we are serving Christ with others. As Dr. John Goetsch, the Executive Vice President of West Coast Baptist College, likes to say, “There is no I in team, but there is an I right in the center of pride.

If we are to serve the Lord effectively with others, we must die to self and to our insecurities that keep us from lifting up Christ. How do our selfish insecurities show up? Here are four ways: 

1. Comparison

Have you ever felt inadequate because you held yourself up to someone whom you deem to be more fruitful, gifted, effective in ministry than you assess yourself to be? 

Or have you ever felt resentful because you compared yourself to someone else on your team and felt that your contributions weren’t being recognized as much as his? 

Comparison is hurtful and unwise in at least two ways: First, it makes you feel either insecure or prideful. And second, it limits you from recognizing and rejoicing in the unique contributions of others. 

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)

2. Condemnation 

A general insistence that you are not good enough to serve is a form of pride. It’s a subtle statement that your skill or growth could qualify you for service when in reality, it is all of God. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Pride cannot live beneath the cross.” 

Pride cannot live beneath the cross.—Charles Spurgeon Click To Tweet

To be sure, there are actual, objective qualifications for pastors and deacons. (See 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.) And relative to those requirements, there are certain sins that disqualify someone from these specific areas of ministry. But every Christian can still serve the Lord in some way. And in whatever doors of ministry God has presently opened to you, praise Him for the opportunity and trust Him to enable you. 

To go around feeling that you just don’t quite measure up to an undefined standard, invites pride and distracts from God’s glory. 

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)

To go around feeling that you just don’t quite measure up to an undefined standard, invites pride and distracts from God’s glory. Click To Tweet

3. Criticism

One of the best ways to kill joy in a team on which you serve is to criticize the others members. There are times we all need constructive criticism, but if you spend your time and energy emphasizing the shortcomings of others, you’re probably not helping to build the team. 

One of the best ways to kill joy in a team on which you serve is to criticize the others members. Click To Tweet

Critical people are often insecure people. They are constantly evaluating and critiquing others to make themselves feel better. They may not even share that criticism with others. But a critical spirit is usually an indicator of pride. 

On the other hand, a humble Christian who is just grateful to serve on the team has the freedom of spirit praise others. 

A thank you note, word of encouragement, moment of rejoicing in how God used someone else…these all go a long way toward building up those with whom you serve. 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21)

4. Competition 

In professional sports, egos can be the death of a team. When one player decides that he is not only competing against the opposing team but is also competing against his own teammates for more touches on the ball or higher stats, nothing good for the team follows. 

As you serve the Lord alongside others, remember that your co-laborers in ministry, while they have different roles, have the same goals—glorifying God. Don’t compete against your team; build it. 

Don’t compete against your team; build it. Click To Tweet

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Ultimately, if we long to see Christ glorified, we will be more focused on Him than we are on ourselves. We will die to self, that Christ’s life might be seen in us. 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

In the insightful little book The Calvary Road, author Roy Hession comments on Galatians 2:20 by suggesting that “a C [for Christ] is a bent I.” It is as we humble our proud selves that Christ is glorified. 

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