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Equipping Pastors: Pride vs. Significance

In the last two years, Acts 29 pastors and leaders have put a major focus on the concept of humility in their faith and leadership. With excellent treatises on humility & pride from men like CJ Mahaney, much solid, biblical teaching has led to repentance of pride and a search for humility. One Acts 29 planter in Atlanta said he read CJ’s book on Humility six times and cried every time he read it because of the reality of pride in his own life.


We have added the measuring of arrogance and pride as a piece of the assessment process at the advisement of J. Allen Thompson, church planting consultant for Redeemer Church Planting Center. Allen calls these “stallers and stoppers.” We have recently rejected several church planters who have applied for Acts 29 on the basis of arrogance.


Allen calls the first staller/stopper “Self-Centered.” It is displayed by arrogance, betraying trust and being unethical. The measurable aspects of arrogance, according to Thompson’s research, are the following:



  1. Takes criticisms of ministry programs personally.
  2. When under tension is cold and aloof making others feel inferior.
  3. Seeks to be the ultimate authority in the ministry.
  4. Tends to be abrupt and impatient in manner.
  5. Tends to live a parallel life from spouse.



Russ McKendry, lead pastor of L2 church in Denver, and the Acts 29 Rocky Mountain Coordinator, has been preaching through Proverbs and recently taught on "Haughty Eyes," but made some great observations about what isn't pride. In uprooting and tearing out pride, it is important to correctly identify the pervasive weed and not dig up the good plants.


Here's a great section of his sermon transcribed:


Most people think of pride in a continuum of someone who’s arrogant to someone who is groveling. We try to rein it in when we see it growing so our disposition is back to an acceptable [groveling, navel-gazing] part of that continuum.


We are not to be people who just give up on ourselves. Most of us have a problem not in that we think too highly of ourselves but that we . . . don’t take ourselves seriously.


Some Christians have never asserted themselves in their faith; they don’t think that there are people in this life that they have to be on mission for. . . Each life is necessary in missional Christianity . . . This is what Jesus talks about when he says “what good is a lamp that’s put under the bed? What good is salt that’s no longer salty?” . . . It’s that mealy-mouthed Christianity that has no purpose and no significance – that is an evidence of a person who does not take themselves seriously enough. And I think that if Jesus himself came and lived with some of you for a week he would have to say, ‘what in the world is wrong with you? Either you believe me or your don’t. And if you believe me, and I have saved you, I have created something to happen in this world through your life.’


In the same vein, Acts 29 pastor Ray Ortlund Jr. comments on God's lament over his rebellious church in Isaiah 1:2 in Isaiah: God Saves Sinners: "How dimly we grasp the significance of our lives. We shrink our self-awareness down to the sequential passing of one moment after another, thinking piecemeal, rarely looking beyond, unaware of the magnitude that we are before God. We trivialize our choices. We don't think they matter that much. But God does not trivialize us. To him, there is no greater tragedy in the universe than his own children in rebellion against him."


Consider these questions:

  1. Where have you stopped taking your life, your church, your actions and your thoughts seriously? Why?
  2. In what ways has a false humility affected arrogant & despairing thoughts that your life doesn't matter to God?
  3. What humble hope is there in a right understanding of the significance of your life?
  4. Do you truly believe that God chose you to accomplish something significant in His story? Does your life reflect that?
  5. Do you foster a sense of significance in the lives of your people?
  6. Do they live with hope, or grovel in the arrogant despair of a self-informed rather than gospel-informed understanding of themselves?