Years ago, when I was a teenager, a seasoned, well-intentioned Baptist deacon gave me an explanation. I was bothered by the apparent arrogance of a pastor, directed towards this deacon and not me. The deacon explained, “Well, you have to expect a certain amount of arrogance from preachers. That’s just the way they are.” Without any intended malice, this man gave a stinging indictment which has rung in my ears as later I became a preacher.
Sadly, sinful pride it often an expected or excused sin of those in leadership. This is not how the Scriptures portray pride. Calvin, in his exposition of 1 Timothy 6:4, hit this point squarely noting that pride here is seen as a distinguishing mark of the false teacher.
And thus shall a man never be a good scholar of God’s, unless he is humble and lowly. And how can they who are puffed up with pride, lead us into the right way when they are far from it themselves, yes, and go completely another way? Therefore let us shun them all who are led away with pride and ambition, for it is certain that they can only cast us headlong with themselves like the devil governs them, who is the father of pride, and so shall we be plunged head over ears, in the selfsame confusion that they are. Let us learn therefore to pull back from them, and keep away, that they who walk after this sort in all vanity, guide us not, that we be not carried this way and that way, (as it were) by the noses. For this cause Saint Paul set down here first of all, Pride, not only to give a mark of infamy to them that pervert the word of God, to disguise and mar it, but that men may detest them, and know that we cannot profit by them, but rather be hurt and marred.
We will do well to heed this warning and loathe this soul-killing, hell-worthy, God-obscuring sin which grows so easily in our own hearts.
Well put, Ross. The goal of pastoral ministry has been lost. You expressed the proper goal well.
Pride goes hand in hand with ambition. And ambition is a virtue among evangelical entrepreneurs these days. Eugene Peterson, quoting Martin Thornton says: “A walloping great congregation is fine, and fun, but what most communities really need is a couple of saints.” God has called us to pray and mine the Scriptures and be a spiritual director to those in the congregation. He hasn’t called us to be ambitious. If we do the blue collar work of praying and reading and spiritual directing, the hard labor of the ministry, maybe pride wouldn’t creep in so easily. Ah, but what do i know. thanks for the post.