LET’S NOT BE ARROGANT, BUT LET US BE CONFIDENT IN CHRIST
written by: Michael Catt
What I’m about to share with you is a true story. We all have stories like this. They are nightmares to those of us in the ministry. A friend of mine has a classic line, “I can’t make up the stuff I know.” The reality is, there are some weird, crazy, dysfunctional, unrealistic people in the church. They are on the bus to glory, but they just might drive us crazy before we get there.
The story goes that a couple left their church to join another church down the street. When they were asked by a staff member to share why they were leaving, they said, “Because the pastor is arrogant and our new pastor is so humble.” The staff member was sharp enough to give what I think is a classic response. “I’ve worked with both of those men, the pastor is anything but arrogant, but your new pastor is proud of his humility. He tells everyone what he’s doing. Our pastor does a lot for people you never hear about.”
There’s some background to this story that would help at this point. This particular family is made up of a widow and two adult children. In the last twenty years, the church has moved the widow from one house or apartment to the next at no expense. They’ve done this at least six times. Not only that, because the lady could not manage her finances, the church’s benevolence fund has paid literally thousands of dollars of rent expenses, electrical and medical bills. On top of that, the church provided all the education funds necessary for one of the children to attend and graduate from Seminary.
Over the years, the family has been prayed for, loved and ministered to by their Bible Study classes. To top it all, the other child’s family asked their Bible Study class to help them move into a new home – and then announced a few days later they were being led to go to another church. Talk about arrogance!
This is a true story. It’s also a sad story of the sorry lot we have in the church who give no evidence of being born again or are grateful. Their name is legion and they multiply like rats. They have no problem sticking their hand out and no problem taking all they can get and then heading for the tall grass. Of course, to look like they are spiritual, they have to accuse someone or something. It’s either, “He’s arrogant,” or “I’m not being fed,” or “They didn’t _____________when I was ____________.”
The cynics, critics, and skeptics we will always have with us. Those who expect excellence from others but want no expectations on themselves will always be among us. Those who like to point fingers but never want their inconsistencies pointed out are too numerous to count.
There will always be people who have the “I know better” syndrome. I’ll admit, right here and now, there have been times when I’ve been stricken with the “I know better” attitude or the “If I were in charge attitude.” For fifteen years, I served as a student minister and there were times when I would get hooked and started second guessing the pastor. Maybe I’m the only staff member that’s ever done that, but I doubt it.
If I wasn’t right in my walk with God, it was easy to find myself saying, “If I were the pastor I would…” Now that I am a pastor, I’ve discovered there is a vast difference in what you think you would do and what you end up doing. There’s a different mindset when the buck stops with you. As long as you can point fingers, blame others, it’s easy to think you can do a better job. That, my friends, is arrogant. Any good leader knows that he better walk humbly before the Lord or he’s going to be moving every fifteen to eighteen months because he can’t get along with people. Pastors and leaders must always remember, we make better decisions if we do what’s right for the church rather than what’s right for ourselves.
Now we could have an all night testimony service if we started sharing about ministers and leaders we’ve met who could strut sitting down. I once attended a denominational meeting and was appalled to witness a high profile pastor snapping his fingers at a staff member and asking him to dial up someone on the cell phone. Someone has said, the higher the ape climbs, the more he shows his rump.
Every year I go on a golf trip to Florida with about thirty other pastors. There are a couple of guys who are there every year who walk around like they are John the Baptist reincarnated. They rarely speak to the other golfers and would drown if it rained because their noses are so far up in the air. They don’t realize it, or maybe they don’t care, but nobody really likes them. They are not approachable and so none of us even try any more. We let them do their thing and the rest of us have a great time of fellowship.
Arrogant leaders take themselves too seriously and don’t take the Lord seriously. It will show up in a number of ways. For instance:
• I’m the only one who can fill the pulpit.
• I’m the only one who can baptize.
• I’m the only one who can do funerals.
• I always preach my own revivals in my church.
• You have to use my translation of the Bible.
• If I’m not on the program, I’m not going.
It can also show up in attitudes you’ll see in churches today:
• Why should I fellowship with pastors from other denominations. They aren’t my kind.
• I’m not going to pray for other churches, my people might go there.
• If I’m not sure they are going to join my church, I’m not going to waste my time visiting them.
• We only want certain kinds of folks in our fellowship.
• This is our Sunday School class and we aren’t moving.
• I’ve sat in this pew for forty years, I’m not giving up my seat.
• Our denomination is the only denomination with sound doctrine.
• My doctrinal stance is the only right one. The rest of you aren’t serious students of the Bible.
• I’m leaving, you didn’t put my name in the bulletin.
• My view of prophecy is not open to interpretation or study. If you don’t hold my view, you are probably an apostate.
The problem in the pew is primarily because of the problem in the pulpit. We have not modeled servant leadership. We’ve fought so long against the “keep the preacher humble” mentality, that now that some of us are living comfortably, we’re also living arrogantly. I know guys who act like they are waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.
© 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.