LET’S NOT BE ARROGANT, BUT LET US BE CONFIDENT IN CHRIST – Part 2
I have a friend who was doing a meeting in a church one day. He began talking about a particular church that God was a blessing. The pastor responded by saying, my mentor is the former pastor of that church and he isn’t too happy about what the new pastor is doing to his church. I must have missed something in the translation. I thought the church was the bride of Christ, not man’s.
Arrogance in the ministry will cause leaders to have the following attitudes:
• The church can’t live without me. Well, it’s done okay since Peter and Paul died. We’ve survived without Spurgeon and Moody, we might make it a day or two without you.
• I can’t take a day off. That’s either a martyr or Superman complex. If you don’t come apart and rest awhile, you will come apart. You won’t be much fun to live with either. Just ask your spouse.
• I have to make all the decisions, I can’t delegate. That’s the Jimmy Carter micro-management syndrome. Jesus delegated the Great Commission to His disciples. Do you think you are greater than your master? Delegation means you trust people to make decisions. Not delegating means you only trust yourself.
• I demand submission without question. There better be someone who can speak into your life and ask you the hard questions. I’m not talking about being a lap dog. I’m talking about having people in your life who can say “Do you really want to do that? Is that really the best decision? What if we thought about it from another perspective?”
Someone has said, there are two kinds of leaders – some are interested in fleecing the flock, the others are interested in the flock. The leader who is interested in the flock is a true shepherd. He gives credit to others. He allows staff and laity to share the spotlight. He enjoys seeing those around him praised for their work and accomplishments. He is not jealous of any praise or following that staff member might get. True, if the relationship between that pastor and staff member goes south, it could hurt. People could leave. Some will not understand. But, love and humility is willing to run the risk.
I like what Bear Bryant said, “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”
If a person is arrogant, they are not teachable. They have no desire to learn from others or give credit to others. They need all the attention, all the praise, all the glory. Of course, the arrogant will have nothing when Jesus hands out the rewards to faithful servants. Servants are arrogant.
I’ve been blessed to be around some great and godly men who have poured into my life. Men like Vance Havner, Manley Beasley, Ron Dunn, Don Miller, Warren Wiersbe, and others have invested time in me. As I was thinking about this article, I thought about one characteristic of mentors. They look for teachable people. They aren’t going to waste their valuable time on someone who already thinks they know it all.
Paul invested in Timothy because Timothy was faithful, available and teachable. I’ve reached the age where it’s fun for me to invest in other ministers. I’m privileged to have a number of men and women who grew up in this ministry who now call and ask for advise. I am more than willing to invest time in those who are hungry, searching and teachable.
Here’s another true story. It happened to me. Right after I came to the church I now serve, I invited John Bisagno, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas to come speak. First Houston was averaging over 6,000 at the time. John took a dead, old downtown church and turned it around. I thought this is a story anyone would want to hear. John offered to do a 2 hour pastors’ conference one morning on church growth. I sent letters to around eighty pastors. Only a handful showed up. They were too busy. What a missed opportunity for those men. Apparently, learning from a leader wasn’t as important as golf or fishing. Like those in Luke’s gospel, I heard every excuse in the book and they all boiled down to, “Let me first….”
I make it a habit to invite pastors to other events that we host. Being the largest church in the region, we are able to provide ministries and resources their churches could never provide. Most never come and never respond. Whatever the reason, they miss golden opportunities to be ministered to.
The dictionary describes arrogant as “full of unwarranted pride and self importance; overbearing; haughty.” There is a difference between arrogance and confidence. No preacher or believer should be arrogant. In Christ, we should be confident.
Confidence is defined as, “firm belief; trust; the fact of being or feeling certain; assurance.” There is a wrong kind of confidence and that is self-confidence. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. The confidence the Christian should possess is a confidence in the sufficiency of Christ. If God is my source, my resource, hope and foundation, I am confident in who I am in Christ.
This kind of confidence does not lead to arrogance, but it does produce a holy boldness. It allows a pastor to say, “Thus says the Lord,” and no back peddling. It keeps us from almost saying something for fear of men and their reactions. It is the prophet’s mantle. It is belief in the authority of the Word of God over the opinions of men.
I’m confident in my God-given abilities. You can’t survive the battles and barbs of ministry if you aren’t. If you are easily offended or easily wounded, the ministry is the wrong profession. You need to pray to have the hide of a rhino and the heart of a lamb and learn not to switch the two. Vance Havner said, “The prophet is on the receiving end of more brickbats than bouquets.”
I’m confident that God has gifted me to pastor this church. God has empowered me with His Holy Spirit to lead and direct this flock. Is that arrogance? No. That’s leadership.
© Michael Catt, 2005.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.