Search This Blog

Follow by Email

Friday, January 11, 2013

Egomaniac Preachers! Is there any other kind?

Today I'm reading 2 Corinthians 11:21-30 from "The Message"

I shouldn’t admit it to you, but our stomachs aren’t strong enough to tolerate that kind of stuff.
21-23 Since you admire the egomaniacs of the pulpit so much (remember, this is your old friend, the fool, talking), let me try my hand at it. Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure race of Abraham? I’m their match. Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can’t believe I’m saying these things. It’s crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I’m going to finish.)
23-27 I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
28-29 And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
30-33 If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I’m not lying. Remember the time I was in Damascus and the governor of King Aretas posted guards at the city gates to arrest me? I crawled through a window in the wall, was let down in a basket, and had to run for my life.

Nothing much has changed in the human ego since the time of Paul. The early church not only had false teachers (people who perverted the truth of Christ), they also had their share of people who served their own ego more than they served Christ. Their doctrine was OK. What they taught was kosher, but something was off. "It's all about me." No matter what they do the focus somehow always comes back to themselves.

Preachers are particularly susceptible to having their egos inflated. A person with a charismatic personality can gather a crowd and wow them with his oratorical skills. That feels good, and if their ego is somewhat fragile then they soak it in and go for more. People need positive encouragement, but these preachers really need the strokes they get from others and it only makes them hungry for more. 

You might be amazed by the stories I could tell about pastors I know whose egos could fill a stadium. It comes across in many ways - a pompous air, trying to be cool, hip, cutting edge in how they talk, dress, speak or the programs they run. It can be subtle or obvious. The problem is, often these egos crash and they take the church down with them. People develop a personality cult and that's never healthy. 

And it's something I have to be aware of in myself, too.

I like what John Wesley said once after a sermon. Someone came up to him and said what a great sermon it was. And Wesley replied, "I know. The devil told me so as soon as I finished."

Paul had some huge humility - and he suffered. That tends to deflate the human ego and replace with a Christlike servant heart. 

So, pray for your pastors and spiritual leaders that they might take an honest look at the size of their egos and the focus of their ministry.


No comments:

Post a Comment