The Sin of Pride and the Church in hard times
I just read a very powerful post from Tim Challies (http://www.challies.com/archives/christian-living/on-being-weak.php) that really hits home on many levels. I am guilty of the sin of pride. As Tim says,
“I would rather suffer silently than humble myself and allow others to extend help to me…I refuse to give other people the opportunity to minister to me. I withhold a blessing from them…It seems to me that I must be as sinful … in refusing to allow them to bless and minister to me when I have need.”
Tim attributes this to his upbringing but I won’t claim the same. God has given me gifts and I allow them to go my head. I have often rushed to get a job done while nobody was around because I didn’t want to have to work with others; they might question the way I’m doing things or even make the job harder but by doing this I am depriving them the chance to use the gifts that God has given them. I have gotten better at asking for help in some areas and here are a couple of examples of how God accomplished that in my life.
The first was in my professional life when I became a department manager and we would get a special request. In most cases, it was by far faster and easier for me to just take care of it myself and let the staff do the normal day to day work. However, that was no longer my job, my job as manager was to train the staff, which meant taking the time to show them how to do the special project. Even though on the inside I was thinking, ‘I could have had this done already,’ I had to learn to be patient and encouraging, no small feat for somebody as prideful as I am.
The second was when our church was formed; we went from being a ministry inside a mega-church to independent and having our own building. For the two years we were under the big church I had final say (under the pastor) about our stage layout and everything audio. I would arrive first and have everything setup before the service, not as big of a job as it sounds as the mixing board had total recall so I just had to put the monitors out and plug the mics and instruments into the right places. For a while, I even tried doing sound and then running up and playing guitar but I quickly learned that was too much and gave up playing until we got somebody who could baby-sit the board. The test came when we moved into our own building and we suddenly had volunteers to run the AV department. Even though I knew I could make it sound better (I have years of experience in professional audio) there were now people who were capable of making it work and wanted the job. It wasn’t easy but I had to let go and let them use the gifts God had given them. My pride still cries out, especially when they do things I don’t agree with but it is God’s church not mine and it is His glory and my pride has no place within His kingdom.
Matthew 14:16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (ESV)
With the current economic situation this is a chance for the church to live out what Jesus told his disciples. It is all too common for the old song to be true “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” It doesn’t cost much to make a little extra and share it with your neighbor, maybe we share in the suffering by eating pasta instead of steak so that we can provide a meal to a family that is struggling. This is said first to myself as I don’t claim to do this nearly as often as I should and it does take planning. Now, on the flip side…
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (ESV)
As I have seen those who are in perpetual need I will mention Tim’s comment (the emphasis is my own), “While it was not generally considered shameful to need or accept charity, it was considered most shameful to request it when it was not absolutely necessary.” While this is also sin, if in doubt we should give first and let God sort it out in Heaven.
I am grateful for the gifts you have given me but I must confess that I am guilty of pride. I ask that you help me remember that I have nothing that you haven’t given me and that all these gifts are for your glory alone. Please help me to share those gifts for your glory with those in need while allowing others to be blessed by using their gifts. It is in Jesus’ name that I pray.