For Humility And Integrity In Ministry
How Humility Will Make You the Greatest Person Ever
In light of the upcoming presidential race and the increase in narcissism amongst our youth, I think it’s safe to say that, as a society, we could use a little more humility.
Our culture places so much value on external accomplishments, appearance, and self-aggrandizement—all things that are ephemeral at best—that even a small display of this quiet virtue can make one feel a drowning man coming up for air.
Yet why can it be so challenging for us to express humility? Is it because we often misinterpret its active demonstration to be a sign of weakness, when in actuality it is an indication of tremendous inner strength?
The answers may be found in what scientists are discovering about this quality—one so deeply revered by all spiritual traditions that many consider it to be the mother of all virtues.
Why is humility good?
When I meet someone who radiates humility, my shoulders relax, my heart beats a little more quietly, and something inside me lets go.
Why? Because I know that I’m being fully seen, heard, and accepted for who I am, warts and all—a precious and rare gift that allows our protective walls to come down.
Truly humble people are able to offer this kind of gift to us because they see and accept their own strengths and limitations without defensiveness or judgment—a core dimension, according to researchers, of humility, and one that cultivates a powerful compassion for humanity.This kind of self-acceptance emerges from grounding one’s worth in our intrinsic value as human beings rather than things such as six-figure salaries or the body of a movie star or climbing the corporate ladder or the number of friends on . Instead, humble people place high value on more meaningful things that benefit others, such as noble qualities.
They also see life as a school, recognizing that while none of us is perfect, we can, without negatively impacting our self-esteem, work on our limitations by being open to new ideas, advice, and criticism.
This ability alone cultivates an awe-inspiring inner strength, the most powerful example of which is Gandhi, whose Autobiography is a journey of humbling self-dissection. He once famously said, “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
If Gandhi is an example of what a humble leader can accomplish, then society serves to benefit from this kind of governance.
Consider what researchers of the “quiet ego”—a construct similar to humility—suggest happens when we gain control of our ego: we become less ly to act aggressively, manipulate others, express dishonesty, and destroy resources.
Instead, we take responsibility for and correct our mistakes, listen to others’ ideas, and keep our abilities in humble perspective.
Who wouldn’t want that kind of leadership for our country—and the world?
But the benefits of humility do not extend to just our leaders. Nascent research suggests that this lovely quality is good for us individually and for our relationships.For example, humble people handle stress more effectively and report higher levels of physical and mental well-being.
They also show greater generosity, helpfulness, and gratitude—all things that can only serve to draw us closer to others.
Three tips for cultivating humility
Given what scientists have discovered about humility, it’s evident that cultivating this quality is not for the faint-hearted, nor does it appear overnight.
Yet it would seem that one of the great rewards of humility is an inner freedom from having to protect those parts that we try to hide from ourselves and others.
In other words, we develop a quiet, understanding, and compassionate heart.
Here are some scientifically-based ways to start.
1. Embrace your humanness
For many, when we fail at something that is important to us—a job or a relationship, for example—our self-esteem plummets because we tied our self-worth to those things. All of a sudden, we become bad or unworthy people, and it can be a long road to recovery.
Not so for people with humility. As stated earlier, their ability to withstand failure or criticism comes from their sense of intrinsic value of being human rather than outer means. So when they fail at a task or don’t live up to expectations, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. It just means that they are human the rest of us.
Scientists suggest that this intrinsic value stems from secure attachment, or the healthy emotional bond formed with close others, usually our childhood caregivers. Having the experience of unconditional acceptance and love, particularly when we’re young, can serve as a buffer against the effects of criticism or failure.
Unfortunately, many of us did not experience secure attachment when we were children. One study found that a whopping 40 percent of adults are not securely attached, but thankfully this does not mean we are doomed. We can heal through healthy adult relationships, such as friends, romantic partners, or even with a higher power. This recent GGSC article suggests some ways.
2. Practice mindfulness and self-compassion
In recent years, mindfulness and self-compassion have been linked to greater psychological resilience and emotional well-being. And I can’t imagine developing humility without them.According to scientists, humble people have an accurate picture of themselves—both their faults and their gifts—which helps them to see what might need changing within.
Mindfulness grows our self-awareness by giving us permission to stop and notice our thoughts and emotions without judgment (if we judge what’s going on inside us, we paint a distorted view of ourselves).
The more we become aware of our inner lives, the easier it is to see where unhealthy beliefs and actions might be limiting us. Noticing and then accepting those parts of ourselves that are wreaking havoc and that require us to change calls for self-compassion, or treating oneself with kindness and understanding.
Once we accept what needs changing, then we can start the process of transformation. I love the saying by a wise sage, “If you are in a dark room, don’t beat the darkness with a stick. Rather, turn on the light.” In other words, just gently and patiently replace a negative thought or action with a positive one and over time, we may not even recognize the person we once were.
3. Express gratitude
Saying “thank you” means that we recognize the gifts that come into our lives and, as a result, acknowledge the value of other people. Very simply, gratitude can make us less self-focused and more focused on those around us—a hallmark of humble people.
Indeed, a recent study found that gratitude and humility are mutually reinforcing. Expressing gratitude can induce humility in us, and humble people have a greater capacity for conveying gratitude.
Both gratitude letters and gratitude diaries were used in this study—easy to perform practices that are described in greater detail on the GGSC’s Greater Good in Action website.
Perhaps the key to humility is seeing life as a journey towards cultivating those qualities that bring out the best in ourselves and others and make this world a better place.And this journey is not just for the average person, but one that many of our greatest leaders have embarked upon. To close with the words of one who knew humility, Nelson Mandela:
As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.
This is the first in a series on humility. Subsequent articles will address humility and school leadership, cultural humility, and humility for students.
Why should we practice honesty, integrity, sincerity and humility on a daily basis?
Honesty means to be genuine and real versus fake and fictitious.Build a reputation of being trustworthy. If there is one thing that builds any kind of relationship at home, at work, or socially, it is integrity.Not keeping commitments amounts to dishonest behaviour.Honesty inspires openness, reliability and frankness.It shows respect for oneself and others.
Honesty is in being, not in appearing to be.Lies may have speed but truth has endurance.Integrity is not found in company brochures or titles but in person's character.Is it worth compromising one's integrity and taking shortcuts to win? A person may win a trophy but knowing the truth, can never be a happy person.
More important than winning a trophy is being a good human being.
A POUND OF BUTTER
There was a farmer who sold pound of butter to a baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting a pound and found that he was not. This angered him and he took farmer to court. The judge asked the farmer how he was measuring the butter he was selling. The farmer replied, » Your Honour, I am primitive.
I don't have a proper measure, but I do have scale.» The judge asked,' Then how do you weigh the butter?» The farmer replied,»Your Honour, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I have been buying a pound of loaf of bread from him. Every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter.
If anyone is to be blamed, it is the baker.»
We get back in life what we give to others.
Whenever you take an action, ask yourself: Am I giving fair value for the wages or the money I hope to make?Honesty and dishonesty becomes a habit. Some people practice dishonesty and can lie with a straight face. Others lie so much that they no longer know what the truth is.
But whom are they deceiving? Themselves—more than anyone else.Honesty can be put across gently. Some people take pride in being brutally honest. It seems they are getting a bigger kick the brutality than the honesty. Choice of words and tact are important.
Truth May Not Always Be What You Want To Hear
One can be truthful without being cruel but that may not always be the case. The most important responsibility of an honest friend is to be truthful. Some people, in order to avoid confronting painful truths, select friends who tell them what they want to hear. They kid themselves despite the fact that deep down they know they are not being truthful. Honest criticism can be painful. If you have many acquaintances and few friends, it is time to step back and explore the depth of your relationships.A lack of honesty is sometimes labelled as tact, public relations or politics. But is it really so? The problem with lying is that one has to remember one's lies.Honesty requires firmness and commitment. How many times have we all been guilty of:
- a little white lies?
- omitting facts or giving half-truths?
- telling the greatest lies by remaining silent?
Make yourself an honest man and then you may be sure there is one rascal less in this world. —————Thomas Carlyle
We all know the story of the shepherd boy who cried wolf. The boy decided to have fun at the expense of villagers. He shouted,»Help, help, the wolf is here.» The villagers heard him and came to his rescue. But when they got there, they saw no wolf and the boy laughed at them. They went away.
The next day, the boy played the same trick and the same thing happened.
Then one day, while the boy was taking care of his sheep he actually saw a wolf and shouted for help. The people in the village heard him but this time nobody came to his rescue.
They thought it was another trick and didn't trust him anymore. He lost his sheep to the wolf.The moral of the story is
- When you tell lies and you are caught you loose credibility.
- Once you have lost credibility, even when you tell the truth, no one believes you.
THE QUALITY OF GOOD CHARACTER IS HONESTY
Truth can be misrepresented in two ways:
1. Incomplete facts or information.
BEWARE OF HALF TRUTHS OR MISREPRESENTATION OF TRUTHS
There was a sailor who worked on the same boat for three years. One night he got drunk. This was the first time it had ever happened. The captain recorded it in the log,»The sailor was drunk tonight.
The sailor read it, and he knew this comment would affect his career, so he went to the captain, apologised and asked the captain to add it only happened once in three years because that was the complete truth. The captain refused and said, » What I have written in log is the truth.
The next day it was the sailor's turn to fill in the log. He wrote,» The captain was sober tonight.» The captain read the comment and asked the sailor to change or add to it explaining the complete truth because this implied that the captain was drunk every other night.
The sailor told the captain that, what he had written in the log was the truth.
Both the statements were true but they conveyed misleading messages.
Exaggeration does two things:
1. It weakens our case and makes us loose credibility.
2. It is an addiction. It becomes a habit. Some people can't tell the truth
Sincerity is a matter of intent and hard to prove. We can achieve our goals by having a sincere desire to help others.
Stay Away From Pretense
Asking a friend in trouble,»Is there anything I can do for you,» is relly annoying. It is more lip service than a sincere offer. If you really want to help, think of something appropriate to be done and do it.Many people put on a cloak of sincerity more selfishness than substance, hoping that some day they could claim the right to receive help.Stay away from meaningless and phony pleasantries.
Caution——-sincerity is no measure of good judgement.'
Someone could be sincere, yet wrong.
ACTION SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
WHICH LOVED BEST? «I love you. Mother,»said little John; Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on, And he was off to the garden swing, And left her the water and wood to bring. «I love you.
Mother,» said rosy Nell—- «I love you better than tongue can tell»; Then she teased and pouted full half the day, Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.
«I love you, Mother,»said little Fan; «Today I'll help you all I can; How glad I am that school doesn't keep!» So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.
Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom, And swept the floor and tidied the room; Busy and happy all day was she, Helpful and happy as child could be.
«I love you, Mother,» again they said, Three children going to bed; How do you think that mother guessed Which of them really loved her best?
——-Joy Allison[Source: The Book Of Virtues, edited by William J. Bennett, Simon & Schuster, New York,1993,p.204]Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning.
————- Mahatma Gandhi
Ancient wisdom says, » Anything that is bought or sold has no value unless it contains the secret, priceless ingredient—that, what cannot be traded.» What is it?
The secret, priceless ingredient of every product is the credibility, the honour and integrity of the one who makes it. It is not so secret but it is priceless.
Here is another side of integrity——Questionable
Three executives were fighting over who would pay the bill for lunch. One said,»I will pay, I can get a tax deduction.» The other said, «Let me have it, I will get reimbursement from my company.» The third said, «Let me pay, because I am filing for bankruptcy next week.»
A nation's wealth is the young generation of the country. When they grow up, who can be the role models? Mother, father and elementary schoolteachers play a very important part as role models. When the child grows up, the role models will be national leaders of quality and integrity in every field including politics, the sciences, technology and industry. Vision ignites the minds. India needs visionaries of the stature of J.R.D Tata, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Dr Verghese Kurien, to name a few, who can involve an entire generation in mission-driven programmes which benefit the country as a whole.[Source: Ignited Minds; APJ Abdul Kalam]
Confidence without humility is arrogance. Humility is the foundation of all virtues. It is a sign of greatness. Humility is the foundation of all the virtues. It is a sign of greatness. Humility does not mean self-demeaning behaviour that would amount to belittling oneself.
Sincere humility attracts but false humility detracts.
Many years ago, a rider came across some soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log without success. The corporal was standing by as the men struggled. The rider asked the corporal why he wasn't helping.
The corporal replied, » I am the corporal; I give orders.» The rider dismounted, went up to the soldiers and helped them lift the log. With his help, the log got moved. The rider quietly mounted his horse and went to the corporal and said.»The next time your men need help, send for the Commander-in-Chief.
» After he left, the corporal and his men found out that the rider was George Washington.
The message is clear. Success and humility go hand in hand. When others blow your horn, the sound goes further. Just think about it?
Simplicity and humility are two hallmarks of greatness.
Adapted from'You Can Win'
by Shiv Khera.
What is Integrity? Why Teach it to Your Kids?
We live in an age where integrity often takes a back seat to power and material success — where “the end justifies the means” is a mantra for too many adults who influence children.
Nowhere has this mantra played out more publicly than in U.S. politics, where deceit, dishonesty, and relentless bullying from all sides shows children the flip side of integrity.
Whether responding to a stranger’s post about a social issue or a friend’s unkind comment about a public figure, quick, off-the-cuff, and nasty replies are the new normal for adults and kids. Many see it as a fun, entertaining game with few consequences. Similar face-to-face conversations play out in homes across the country.
Unfortunately, the consequences of ignoring integrity are real, and the psychological damage can run deep, even for those who sit silently on the sidelines. second-hand smoke, the effects of disrespect and dishonesty often seep invisibly into the bodies and minds of children.
To reverse these hurtful trends, families must ask themselves tough questions about what they most value in life, then teach their children to live those values.
As Gandhi so eloquently said, “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
Integrity is our ability to act in ways consistent with the values, beliefs, and moral principles we claim to hold. Derived from integer, the Latin word for whole or complete, it refers to a human state of virtue and wholeness. Beyond a single ability, integrity is a collection of virtues, including honesty, courage, honor, respect, responsibility, restraint, and authenticity.
Despite societal forces that test integrity, most people agree that children deserve a world that values truth, honesty, and justice. As the basis of social harmony and action, integrity plays a critical role in civil society as well as democracy.
How do children develop integrity?
While kids are influenced by many out-of-home factors in today’s world, research shows that families are still the primary teachers of integrity and the behaviors associated with it. This article highlights the role families play in the development of integrity and why integrity is vital to children’s success.
Why Integrity is Important to Your Child’s Success
During your child’s growing up years, success is often defined by academic scores and extra-curricular accomplishments. And while these measures are important, Warren Buffet, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, reminds us why families must also focus on developing human virtues.
“In looking for people to hire,” Buffet says, “look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”
Most leaders agree that money, power, and achieving goals is secondary to the whole human being. This sentiment is found within the texts of all the great religions of the world. And for good reason. Collective human success and well-being depends on the respectful, honest, and courageous exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Children are not born with integrity or the behaviors we associate with it, including humility, social responsibility, and the courage to stand up for what they believe is right. It is derived through a process of cultural socialization—influences from all spheres of a child’s life.
This process begins at home.Through parent coaching, integrity is one of eight core abilities I help parents understand and nurture at home. Below are ways you can start today to foster integrity in your child!
Students from Bainbridge High School in Washington State chose the photo, words, and quote for the above INTEGRITY banner — one of seven that hang in the hallways of their school to remind all students of the core abilities that matter most to their development and well-being.
1. Articulate family values
What are your family values? Can your child discuss and defend them? Family values impact healthy child and adolescent development in profound ways. Most families have positive values that are steeped in their cultures or religions.
Their values elicit habits of thinking and behaving that honor human strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and imperfections.
Learn why family values should be intentionally articulated and how children learn through a parent’s words and actions.
2. Develop a moral vocabulary
Words honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values.
Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.
Check out an excellent list of quotes that were compiled by The International Center for Academic Integrity.
3. Reward respectful behavior
When children feel good about doing what’s right, they learn to measure the quality of their lives beyond grades and extra-curricular achievements.
Parents who let children know that courage, honesty, and respect for others is more highly valued than quantifiable wealth or intelligence help kids understand the true meaning of being wholly human.
When your children show integrity, tell them what you admire about their behavior.
4. Explore consequences
Learning integrity takes practice. all learning, failure produces consequences. When children explore, understand, and accept the consequences of failure, critical learning occurs.
For example, in elementary school, children often learn that being disrespectful to peers negatively affects their friendships. As they get older and feel pressure to succeed in school, some children learn that cheating affects their academic reputations. For a child, these can be tough consequences. Yet, they are consequences children learn to understand.
As children become teenagers and young adults, the consequences of not being responsible and honest become more serious. For example, teens who deceive parents and drive drunk can cause someone’s injury or death, perhaps their own. Often, the consequences of their actions can never be fully understood or accepted.
When integrity is taught at home from a young age, it becomes part of a child’s character. Ideally, children learn integrity when the consequences are small.
Having integrity doesn’t mean children will always be honest, responsible, or respectful.
What it does mean is that they will understand the consequences of their actions on themselves and others and, with that understanding, will make informed choices about how they live out their own values in the world.
5. Respond appropriately
Parents cannot control their child’s behavior, but they can respond with consistency when reinforcing family values. When learning is considered the foremost goal, dishonest or disrespectful behavior becomes a teachable moment for parents.
What’s most important is that your child reflects on and gleans meaning from their behavior. Talk with them. Listen and show respect for your child’s thinking, and then restate your expectations that dishonesty or disrespect is never acceptable in your family.
Consequences should be consistent and clearly understood.
6. Be a role model
Children often name parents as their role models. Research shows that role models live their values in the world. They help children understand how values, integrity, are part of a successful and rewarding life.
Review what you say or share on social media. Does it reflect your values? Is it hurtful to others? Are there more respectful ways to share what you believe? Children are watching and learning from their adult role models.
Read about five qualities of role models that matter most to teens.
7. Teach digital etiquette
More than ever before, parents should teach all aspects of digital citizenship from an early age, including social networking etiquette, digital literacy, and standards of moral conduct.
While it is difficult for children to stand up to disrespectful behavior online, they should always know that they can seek support from an adult when they feel threatened, bullied, or fearful.
This is one way they can act with integrity and safely stand for what they believe.
Examples of integrity are contained in human stories everywhere.
When you read books with your kids, listen to stories about their peers, watch TV or movies together, or talk about what’s going on in the world, ask your kids to find examples of how individuals stood up for their beliefs in ways that made a difference for themselves or the world around them. Make the topic of integrity part of the conversation!
9. Instill self-efficacy
Children who stand up for principles in which they believe have high degrees of self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to accomplish goals and influence the future.
Parents instill self-efficacy in children when they help kids be guided by their own internal compasses, allow them to grow from their relationships, and appreciate children for who they are, not just for what they achieve.
When young people learn to believe in themselves, dishonesty and disrespect no longer make much sense. Living with integrity becomes a way of life. Read what it means to “believe in yourself,” through words from young people themselves.
The following infographic was created from the material in this article. Please feel free to copy, print, and share it with others!
Learn More About Integrity
Check out the following books to learn more about developing integrity and wholeness of character in your kids, and why it’s so important to your child’s success and well-being:
The Road to Character, by David Brooks
Stand Tall! A Book About Integrity, by Cheri J. Meiners and Elizabeth Allen (Ages 4-8)
Parenting from the Inside Out, by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell
Parenting with Love & Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Articles in this Parenting Series
Successful Kids Need 8 Core Abilities: How to Parent With Purpose
Curiosity: How Parents Foster Lifelong Learning in Children
Sociability: How Families Learn Together with Love and Respect
Resilience: How Families Grow from Adversity
Self-Awareness: How Parents Foster Meaning and Purpose in Kids
Integrity: How Families Teach and Live their Values (Currently Reading)
Resourcefulness: How Parents Help Children Achieve Goals
Creativity: How Parents Nurture the Evolution of Children’s Ideas
Empathy: How Families Lead with Gratitude and Kindness
Free Resources for Parents
My Parenting Promise: a frame-ready document that helps reinforce the compass abilities through parenting practices.
I Have a Dream: a frame-ready document created by youth — to discuss with your children.
Reframing Success: Helping Children & Teens Grow from the Inside Out: an eBook that introduces The Compass Advantage. This eBook has been widely used by schools as a “Book Club” reading to engage parents about raising healthy children and teens.
Photo Credits: Bainbridge Healthy Youth Alliance; rawpixel
Published: February 6, 2017
Humility in Baptist Churches
Being an independent Baptist in the 1970s was exciting. Elmer Towns published The Ten Largest Sunday Schools in America in 1969, and we occupied a majority of the spots.
People were being saved, and churches were growing exponentially through aggressive soulwinning and outreach.
The independent Baptist churches were making a noticeable difference as they reached out to the poor and forgotten in their communities and ministered with a sustained soulwinning fervor.
Yes, the American culture of the ‘70s was already beginning to turn against biblical Christianity, but there was still a level of respect and goodwill towards churches and pastors. Fast-forward forty years, however, and we find we are ministering in a different climate.
Scandals attached to Christianity, even nominally, have helped foster hostility towards churches. The TV evangelist scandals cast a shadow of greed and mistrust over pastors as a whole. Sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic church further cast a distrust for any who claimed to be ministers of Christ.
And grievously, there have been similar sins committed by some who call themselves conservative or “independent” Baptists.When you add in angry, unfruitful bloggers and picketers at military funerals who call themselves Baptists, you can understand the need to better articulate our position, guard our spirit, and walk with the Lord.
Over the past year, reporters have jumped on these stories of failed or unbiblical ministries with biased and unkind reports.
Often they portray the assumption that a few churches represent all, which of course is unfair, and most of us have been quick to call “foul.
” To take a few examples, however serious, and paint thousands of churches and hundreds of thousands of believers in the same light is disingenuous.
The nature of our movement as a whole is different than organized denominations. Because of our independent status, there is no board or president to speak for the whole. While no one person can speak for all the churches, neither can one person (reporter or pastor)—unless they are omnipresent and omniscient—declare all the churches corrupt, cultic, or any other stereotype.
As valid as our concerns over this unjust treatment may be, we must not overlook the broader picture. People in our churches and in our communities have heightened concerns. In a hostile culture, it is more important than ever to minister with grace and integrity. Pastors are not given the benefit of the doubt, and we represent the name above all names—Jesus Christ.
Additionally, we are all subject to temptation, and we are in greatest danger when we think “It will never happen to me.” “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
The answer to the criticism without and to the danger within is the same—be Jesus.
When we look at the character of Jesus, John 1:14 describes Him as “full of grace and truth.” We need both. A spirit of grace is humble, merciful, and generous.
A commitment to truth means we stand firm on the Word of God and that we are committed to personal integrity.
As Paul told Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).I have watched seasoned men, weary in the battle, respond poorly to the additional scrutiny of the current culture. In fact, when questions are asked or discussions are needed, it seems they sometimes respond with insecure anger. Sadly, their arguments are often the loudest where the Scriptures are silent.
How can we pursue the grace and truth that filled Christ and live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”? How can we minister with “a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ”?
How to Minister with Grace
I bring up The Ten Largest Sunday Schools in America because in hindsight, I wish this book had never been written.
We are fallen men with nothing good in ourselves apart from the grace of God, and anything good that comes must come from God.
When our response to the blessings of God is pride, not gratitude, we cut ourselves off from the very source of blessing. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
Pride is at the root of much of the unbalanced ministry that leads to compromised integrity. Pride precludes us from being filled with the very grace we so desperately need to minister Jesus. I recently shared with our church family how pride has created imbalances in some fundamental churches.
The Lord has graciously convicted me over the years when pride creeps into my life instead of gratitude or a desire to deflect the praise to Him. Over the years, I have tried to avoid fellowship with ministries where proud imbalances are the norm.
I have also asked the Holy Spirit and godly friends and mentors to point out prideful imbalances in ministry that reflect the opposite of humility before the Lord:
Anger. While we share God’s righteous anger against sin, we must avoid a persistently angry spirit. Proverbs 22:24 warns, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.” Too often our anger is not over sin against God, but a perceived slight against ourselves or embarrassment.
Concern for Image over Integrity. I recently read a book in which the author used an illustration to which I think all ofus in ministry can relate.
He pointed out that when we first enter theministry, we are consumed with the desire to preach Christ and make Him known.We know that Jesus is the true gift of ministry, and we are eager and zealousto give others this incredible gift.But along the way, we tend to become moreconsumed with how the gift is packaged than the gift itself. We wrap the giftin packaging called “platform” or “programs” or “ministry philosophy”—none ofwhich are wrong—but we must remember that they are only the packaging.
The dangerto which we too often succumb is our own tendency to focus more on keeping thewrapping looking good than to simply know Christ and to purely make Himknown.
Man-centered ministries will do just about anything to protect image. For example, immorality, whether committed by a pastoral staff member or a church member, should be confronted immediately and biblically.
Even more so, if a crime has taken place, it should immediately be reported to the proper government authorities. These concerns cannot be ignored or covered. (See 1 Corinthians 5.) Pride seeks to preserve an image of grace when in reality there is dark sin hiding.
Humility acknowledges the sin and seeks God’s grace in dealing with it and in ministering to those hurt by it.
Pride in Numbers. When people are saved through our ministry, God is glorified. That is the greatest privilege of ministry.
But if we instead competed with other ministries to be the biggest, greatest, fastest growing, or any other superlative, we would cut ourselves off from God’s grace.
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Sadly, some young preachers who are disappointed in their numbers will shift ministry philosophies and doctrine in their quest for success only to find attendances are not dramatically affected. Often these men are disappointed further. God is not as interested in the size of our ministries as He is in our faithfulness to His truth.
Pride in Men. Our allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and our mission as Christians is to point others to Him. The church at Corinth was divided over personalities. Some would boast, “I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos.
” Paul rebuked them, “are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:4). They were co-laborers in the Lord preaching the same Gospel with the same doctrine, yet some felt compelled to choose sides.
Whenever we pride ourselves in our associations with men and institutions, we grieve the only One who grants true empowerment—the Holy Spirit of God.
Pride in Standards. Truthfully, everyone has some standards of living for themselves. And standards drawn from biblical principles are essential in practicing the doctrines of holiness and purity. Yet there is a temptation to glory in one’s standards, sometimes even to the neglect of deeper heart issues.Only when we obey the instruction of 2 Corinthians 10:17 will we free ourselves from this sinful boasting in standards: “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Our focus and our joy must always be rooted in Him. If a standard is based upon a biblical conviction, and it helps me to be more Christ, then all the glory should go to Christ.
When we become proud of ourselves, we are just as sinful as the immodest or “worldly” Christian.
Unbiblical Preaching. It is a tremendous responsibility to preach the powerful, life-changing Word of God. One of the most tragic mistakes we make is when we elevate personal opinions to a doctrinal level, preaching man’s opinion as truth. Also, because of our sacred responsibility, vulgar and offensive language has no place in the pulpit.
Lack of Grace. When pride enters our hearts, we stop being gracious. The strongest motivators in a graceless ministry are guilt and fear—tragic substitutes for being motivated by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). Our lack of grace is manifested in shortness with others, lack of mercy, and a condemning attitude.
Misplaced Identity. At the heart of most pride problems is a works-based identity. Do we value ourselves the number of hours we worked or the number of people in our Sunday school class? Where do we find our worth and acceptance? Ephesians 1:6 gives a welcome answer: “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Pride in Position. I treasure my Baptist heritage. I am thankful to take my place in a long legacy of men who have studied God’s Word for truth and made Bible convictions their rule for faith and practice.
But I dare not become prideful in this position. After all, I am what I am only by God’s grace. When any person, church, or group takes pride in themselves, God will resist that.
Sooner or later, He will expose them for who they are apart from His grace and remove His blessing.
Avoiding these imbalances is not as simple as pointing them out in an article. The only way to maintain the delicate balance of grace and truth is to confess to the Lord the pride that sways us and humbly seek God’s grace as we declare His truth.
In part 2 of this article, we’ll look at several practical suggestions to elevate both humility and integrity in ministry.
In Humility, Count Other Ministries More Important Than Your Own
What are your goals for the New Year? We often re-evaluate our priorities and commitments in January. We decide how and where to spend our time in the coming months. We may commit ourselves to a new level of involvement in a particular ministry. And sometimes, in our enthusiasm, we become overzealous for others to commit to the same cause.
“God is doing such amazing things in this ministry. I just wish more people would get on board.” As a pastor’s wife for the past 16 years, I’ve had this conversation on more than one occasion.
I understand the feeling. I’m passionate about women’s Bible studies and have been involved in various groups over the years. Sometimes I get frustrated or discouraged, wondering why all the women in the church aren’t passionate about the thing I find to be such a blessing.
When it comes to ministries we love, it’s easy to have tunnel vision. We think our ministry should be flooded with volunteers and have a generous church budget. We wonder why others aren’t as excited about our ministry, and why they’re not willing to invest the same amount of time and energy as we do.
Sometimes the area we’re passionate about requires special abilities or availability. For instance, someone struggling with chronic illness can’t rebuild houses or serve meals to the homeless each week. The man who just lost his job can’t afford to buy fair-trade coffee to benefit adoption. The working mom can’t attend a Monday morning Bible study.
Other times, our fellow believers aren’t doing “our” ministry because they’re already committed to doing other valuable ministry.
Sadly, our disappointment that they aren’t serving in the way we want can lead to judgment and bitterness. I’ve watched relationships falter and people walk away from the church because their ministry wasn’t given the attention, money, or volunteers they felt were necessary.
One Body, Many Members
When we’re disappointed with others in ministry, we find a relevant exhortation in Romans 12:3:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Paul realizes that the basis of our frustration is pride. Our negative assumption that others aren’t as invested in Christ’s kingdom as we are, or are choosing to spend their time on less meaningful things, is rooted in thinking that our agenda is most important.Instead, we should rejoice over the various gifts and passions God has blessed us with in the body of Christ:
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are the one body in Christ, and individually members of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. (Rom. 12:4–6)
God grants us different gifts that are necessary within the body of Christ. What one person lacks, another has. And without either, the church wouldn’t be complete.
In much the same way, the passions God has given us for ministries will differ. While one person is excited about street evangelism and mobilizing others to share their faith, another person might quietly serve by visiting the sick or elderly.
Ministry for the Common Good
With this understanding, here are five ways to free others from the burden of our expectations:
- Remember that we’re all invested in the most important ministry of the church, which is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. In our everyday ministries and especially in our corporate worship, we’re participating together in our highest calling.
Our ministries aren’t in competition with each other but serve the same end goal.
- Be grateful for the variety of gifts in the body of Christ. Instead of lamenting why more people aren’t serving in your area of ministry, be thankful for the multitude of ways God is using his people to serve others.
- Acknowledge that the body of Christ would be incomplete without the various gifts and ministries of people within the church. “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. . . . If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” (1 Cor. 12:14, 18).
- Confess any judgmental thoughts. Repent and ask God to help you extend grace and kindness to those who have different priorities.
- Free others to serve. Be excited for new ministries popping up within your church body. Come alongside others in prayer and encouragement for what God has given them to do.
Release them from the expectations you may have on their time and energy so they can freely focus on their own calling.
Our unique gifts and callings are a way we can minister together for the “common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). Instead of focusing on what we wish others were doing, let’s wholeheartedly pursue God’s plan for us and free others to do the same.
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