I’ve written before that I, like many others, wrestle with pride. Over the years of ministry, though, the Lord has taught me much — most often the hard way. Perhaps you’ve experienced some of those same ego blows I have:
- Every organization I’ve been part of went on fine without me. I didn’t want any of them to go into decline, but I thought they’d at least miss me. I’ve learned, however, that God’s much, much bigger than that.
- There’s always someone more gifted than I am at what I do. I have to learn not only to recognize that truth, but also to rejoice in the God-given abilities of others.
- No matter how well I think I’ve done publicly, I’ve still wrestled with my own sin. A great day at church on Sunday doesn’t always mean I’m more obedient on Monday. Sometimes, in fact, sin haunts me more when I’m worn out from Sunday.
- Every compliment I’ve received from others has usually been balanced by people who know me best and speak honestly with me. I count my sweet wife, Pam, and my Southeastern Seminary provost, Keith Whitfield, among those persons. Quietly and graciously, they keep me balanced.
- No matter what anyone else has thought, I’ve known when I’ve not given my all – or when I’ve not used my time wisely. Others know perception; I know reality. They’ve not always been the same.
- My mistakes and failures in the past have lingered much longer in my head than have my victories and successes. I’ve not yet learned how to let go of my leadership mistakes in the past. Occasionally, they still bother me — even decades later.
- Much stronger, more effective leaders have pointed out areas where I need to grow—and I haven’t always grown in those capacities. These leaders rightly helped me to see myself. The problem, if I’m honest, is that I still struggle with some of those same leadership responsibilities.
- Members have left churches I’ve pastored; students have dropped my class; reviewers have pointed out ways to strengthen my books. That is, I’ve been continually reminded that I don’t have what it takes to reach everyone or please everyone — even if I think I should.
Much room still to grow . . . . but God still lets me do His work. That’s incredible.