We must acknowledge pride as the greatest threat to our spiritual leadership. In his book Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Peterson writes,

“It is necessary that there be leaders, but woe to those who become leaders. On the assumption of leadership — even modest forays into leadership — possibilities for sin that were previously inaccessible immediately present themselves.”

Leadership creates new horizons for pride. 

 

Pride is the most difficult sin to detect in ourselves.

Because pride is so subtle, it is the easiest sin to fall into… especially for leaders. Leadership puts us front and center, where pride can hide behind our job description. People respect spiritual leaders, come to us for counsel, and allow us to guide them; that amount of trust and authority creates fertile soil for growing pride. 

Pride ruins leaders.

Pride distorts anything good that exists in our lives and ministries. Pride turns holiness into self-righteousness, success into self-reliance and opportunity into entitlement. Humility has the opposite effect: it turns weakness into spiritual power. Humility turns sin into poverty of spirit, failure into reflection and limitation into prayer.

Pride is especially damaging for leaders. No matter how gifted, called, prepared and smart you are as a leader, a drop of pride will unravel your potential. Looking back on my 20 years of spiritual leadership, I’m convinced that pride, whether exposed or hidden, was the cause of my seasons of failure. God resists a proud leader, and I’ve experienced that resistance in my own ministry.  

In Andrew Murray’s book Humility, he invites us to pray the following prayer for thirty days:

“I beg that of Your great goodness You would make known to me, and take from my heart, every kind and form and degree of Pride, whether it be from evil spirits, or my own corrupt nature; and that You would awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that Humility, which can make me capable of Your light and Your Holy Spirit.”

I have done this 30 day prayer challenge multiple times, and each time it exposes and humbles me. As I pray this prayer, God makes known to me the kinds, forms and degrees of pride that exist in my heart. 

Because pride is so sneaky and so destructive, it’s critical to our leadership that we learn to identify and forsake it. For the next series of posts, I will unpack four specific forms of pride, how they lie to us and how to humble ourselves accordingly. 

  1. Self-Promotion
  2. Self-Reliance
  3. Self-Righteousness
  4. Self-Pity

As this series continues, I invite you to pray Murray’s prayer for 30 days as you allow God to expose your pride and grow you in humility — it’s the most important thing you can do for your leadership.