Pride and the Pastor

 There are some things that hinder the pastoral ministry, some things that make for an inefficient ministry. Charles Bridges talks about this subject in a section of his book, Christian Ministry, called “Causes of Ministerial Inefficiency connected with Our Personal Character.” Among other things, Bridges discusses the fear of man, lack of devotedness, lack of self-denial, and the spirit of covetousness. He also mentions that spiritual pride is a cause for inefficient ministry:

“An affectionate and devoted Minister is honored of God, and acceptable to his flock. What a large share of humility, what unceasing supply of Divine grace, is needed to resist a temptation that falls in so powerfully with the selfish principle of the natural heart!  ‘Great care must be taken, while we are endeavoring to destroy external idols, or those of vice in others, that we do not insensibly substitute ourselves in their place.’  We must indeed labor and pray unceasingly for enlarged success. And yet in this prayer we sometimes ‘know not what we ask.’ A season of remarkable prosperity will probably prove an hour of fearful temptation to our souls.”

“…Selfishness is indeed the peculiar character of this sin. It is as if we could take no comparative interest in the conversion of sinners through other instrumentality than our own; or as if we measured our regard to the glory of God by the opportunities afforded for the display of our own glory. We wish for eminence rather than for usefulness. We want to stand alone. Instead of rejoicing in the spiritual acquirements of others, we are reluctant to admire superior talents, even when they are consecrated to the cause of their Great Master. We cannot bear anything that shines too near to us, and will probably eclipse our own brightness….”

“…Let none of us conceive ourselves beyond the reach of this snare. Human nature can never be raised to distinction without being tempted to vanity. A subtle pestilential influence breathes around the pulpit steps, and in the purest atmosphere of holy consecration.”

“It is of little comparative moment that our Ministry should bear the stamp of talent, erudition, or pathos. But if it should be characterized by the savor of humility and love, it would be best adapted to display the glories of Immanuel, and most honored with the manifestations of his Spirit.”

Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, p. 151-154.

Shane Lems

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