Saturday, May 24, 2008

Preachers - Beware Pride at All Costs

"I really enjoyed it."

"Thank you so much."

"That was a great sermon."

"You really spoke to me."

"I love your preaching."

These are some of the things preachers hear from well-meaning people after they have spoken. In fact, I've heard just about all of these.

I currently have the opportunity to preach twice each Sunday and lead prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. I'm thankful to God for allowing me to do this. After each sermon, I try to greet the people as they exit the building. Most folks want to say something nice about the sermon. There is no problem with that.

The problem lies with me, in my heart. After hearing all of those nice words, there is a big temptation to think I am something special. I can sometimes sense insidious thoughts creeping around in my head - prideful thoughts. After listening to compliments, I have to be careful not to begin thinking that my speaking ability is excellent, outstanding, tremendous, fabulous, and amazing, etc. I could easily begin thinking that I am the next John MacArthur, John Piper, or Alistair Begg.

The reality is that I am nothing special. In fact, unless God speaks when I'm in the pulpit, nothing good is going to happen. Frankly, this is the case when anyone is preaching and teaching.

Pride is such an insidious danger. I'm reminded of verses such as these:

Genesis 3:6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate." Pride is implied in Eve's desire to be wise.

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Proverbs 29:23 "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor."

1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. "

Pride is a (if not THE) cause of much sin. It is the ultimate dethroning of God in our minds and replacement of ourselves on the throne. It is us saying we are the cause of the good that has occurred. When we remember just how corrupt we are (click here for more on that), then we realize what blatant idolatry pride really is.

So what should we do when faced with this dilemma? When I'm feeling prideful, I first quickly repent. I also remind myself that anything good that happens in the pulpit comes directly from God. Anything bad comes from me.

On top of that, I think about verses such as James 4:6, which says, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'"

Let us all, no matter what our circumstances, resist pride and cling to God, the only source of good.

12 comments:

devin.bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aussie John said...

Eric,

I am blessed by your honesty on this issue.

There is a good way to deal with the matter. Don't put people in the position where they MUST comment, which you do, by going to the door after the service.

I soon learned that they feel they MUST follow tradition and say SOMETHING. What else will they say?
It's hard to grasp someone by the hand and say nothing, except when arm wrestling.

Why not cease going to the door and casually mingle amongst them as they begin to chat with one another. Very few folk leave immediately and respond positively to that casual handshake, pat on the shoulder, etc., rather than the more formal handshake at the door.

That was my answer to the dilemma; and it worked well.

Eric said...

John,

Thanks for your advice. Tomorrow I'm going to do what you have suggested. It is difficult because I want to see everyone, but that may just not be possible. Also, if anyone really does need/want to speak with me, they will be able to find me after the service.

Lew A said...

It may be awkward but you could tell everyone, hey, I really appreciate your comments of encouragement at the end of my sermons. But I would appreciate it more if you would not tell me if it was good - only if it was bad.

That sounds kinda tacky... maybe Aussie John's advice is better.

God's Glory,
Lew

The Pursuit Online Store

Eric said...

Lew,

Thanks for the comment.

I'm not really sure what the answer is. I certainly do want to know if something I say or do was incorrect or downright bad.

I need to encourage the people to remember that all the glory and honor needs to go to God. John is right - when the preacher stands by the door greeting everyone, they feel compelled to say something.

Joe Blackmon said...

Well, I'm kind of in your boat this week. I haven't preached anywhere in about 2 years or so and I've got the opportunity ti preach a sermon this Sunday night. My response to positive comments after I preach has always been some variation on a theme of "Thank you. I give all glory to God becauase it's only with His power that I can do this." I'm not saying that is the solution----that's just what I do.

Eric said...

Joe,

I'm happy for you that you have the chance to preach this week. What is your primary text?

Your suggestion of what to say sounds like a good one. Sometimes I have said things like that, and the response of the people has been positive. More importantly, it honors God.

I'll have to give this more thought.

Thanks.

Joe Blackmon said...

Eric

2 Timothy 2:15. It's Awana awards night and I'm the Awana Commander. Basically, I preach a mini-sermon to the 3rd-6th graders on Wednesday at the end of the evening.

I'm pretty pumped about it. I would appreciate the prayers of you and your readers.

Eric said...

Joe,

I hope and pray that it goes well. God is always faithful to His word, so just preach it!

Brian said...

Funny thing is, if you replied, "Great, what did I say?" Most might not be able to respond. Sadly, most folks forget what you said within 1-2 hours after the sermon is over. Probably what they remember would be the things you keep saying over and over over a period of time.

Eric said...

Brian,

What you say is all too true. As those who proclaim the word, we really do have to repeat key concepts over and over. Maybe this will help keep us humble.