Signs of pride are easy to spot:
- Loving the praise we get from others
- Name dropping - we are on the in with the big shots
- Letting others know how big and successful our ministries are
- Not listening to others - we have the answers
- Letting others know we are in charge
- Taking credit for success
- Blaming others for failure
- Ignoring our shadow side
- Narcissism (there is a lot of it in Christian leadership)
- Elevating ourselves
- Defensiveness (pride central)
- Putting others down
Think about this: Pride elevates self but we are to elevate Jesus. Pride says "I accomplished this" when in reality anything of spiritual significance was accomplished by God's power. Pride says, "I made something of myself" when in fact God gave us our skills and wiring as a gift to be used for Him. Pride thinks that our success is a reflection of our greatness when in effect, it is simply a gift from God.
If anyone had a right to pride it was Jesus but where do you see it? He claimed to speak the words of the Father, do the will of the Father and gave all the glory to the Father. He lived for the Father's glory rather than His own. When His disciples vied for position and glory He rebuked them saying that they were living by the world's values not kingdom values.
The life of Jesus was one of humble dependence and servant leadership. Paul had the same mindset committed to boasting about one thing only - the cross of Christ. He took no credit for his accomplishments, great as they were but gave all the credit to God. He knew that "when he was weak, then he was strong," because it was all about God's power, not his wisdom or power.
Why is there so much pride, so many egos and may I say it, narcissism among Christian leaders? It does not square with the life of Jesus or the life of Paul or the teaching of Scripture. We are nothing without God. My ability to write blogs and books is simply a gift I have been given. The leadership skills I have were also a gift from God to be used in trust for Him. What do I have to boast about except that God was gracious to me? And if I do take the credit am I not stealing credit from the One who rightly deserves all of it?
It is no wonder that many Christian leaders have major blow ups in their lives and ministries. Pride elevates self and minimizes Jesus and the greater the elevation of ourselves and the minimization of Jesus the more dangerous territory we are in. Narcissism is the ultimate elevation of self and rejection of Him. Once it becomes about us we have lost all ability to lead on His behalf. It is not that God abandons us, we have abandoned Him for all practical purposes.
It was pride that caused Satan to rebel against God. It was pride that prompted Adam and Eve to eat of the tree. It is pride that causes us to elevate ourselves but to the extent we do we are minimizing God. And that is a dangerous path to walk. Our hearts are indeed deceitful above all things. Guarding our hearts against pride is job one of anyone in Christian leadership.