There was a time in my youth ministry days where I experimented a bit with doing a youth worship service. This meant getting people to help with different aspects of the service. One of the key ingredients was music. I wanted to have someone leading worship. I had a couple guys who were willing to lead this aspect of the project and rotate the responsibilities. The only problem for me was that I too am a musician, singer, and worship leader. The two guys who were wiling to serve were considerably younger and lot less experienced than I, and whether it was true or not, I always felt like I was better at it than them. There were moments when I felt like they weren’t capable of doing what I was trying to accomplish. I yielded those feelings and didn’t step in, but there was such a huge desire in me to just push them out of the way and take over. I felt like I was the only one who was able to do what needed to be done.
Whether we are talking about a volunteer leader, or someone who is on paid ministry staff, if your ministry leader believes they are the only one capable of doing _____, it will destroy them. Pride sneaks in in one of two ways…
Pride can give them an ego complex. This brand of pride leads them to a lower view of others. They begin to think that they are the greatest gift of God to ministry since Paul. Ok, maybe that is a little extreme, but they can begin to think that they are better than the rest of the people who are associated with their ministry. And they are certainly likely to think they are above the ones they serve. You’ll notice that they start taking over. They may relieve other workers in their ministries of their jobs and responsibilities and take it on their self. And even as their stack of stuff piles up, they will revel in it because it continuously strokes their ego, makes them feel more important than they are, and builds up their perception that they truly are the only person who is capable of doing _____.
On the other hand, pride can give them a martyr complex. This brand of pride leads them to a lower view of their self. This is more of a pride in their work as opposed to pride in their self. They see their ministry as something that is so important, and believe that no one is else is capable of doing the work. This belief lead them to frustration. Their pride actually end up getting hurt because they believe if other people cared, they would make their selves able to do what is needed. In other words, other people are not capable because they don’t care enough to become capable. As a result they end up a workaholic out of their obligation to the ministry (as opposed to their personal pride.) They may start to assume others don’t value the ministry, and wile on one hand they work to death for its success, on the other hand they begin to question the value of the work altogether. They spin out into a “woe is me” depression.
So how do we challenge this belief? This one is a little harder to intervene in because a lot of the problem rests in what is going on inside the minister leader’s heart, but here are some ideas.
1) Help. You may not be capable of doing certain things in a person’s ministry. However, you are probably more than capable of helping. Can you find some task that you can help with? Maybe it is something that falls outside of the spectrum of that particular ministry, but is helpful to the ministry leader nonetheless. The tech savvy or the handyman are often very helpful to those in ministry. By being helpful, you are both showing that you are capable of doing something, and helping them to recognize that maybe they do have shortcomings. It helps to keep that pride in check.
2) Learn. If there is a ministry that you are passionate about, but the leader is actually very correct in pointing out that you don’t have the skills or talents needed, then learn. Go to workshops, find information on the internet. But make that effort to learn. This will show that the ministry is important enough to you that you want to be capable of helping. Unless your ministry leader is completely wrapped up in his ego, he should be able to point you in the right direction in regards to learning.
3) Do Something. Just get involved. Don’t wait to be asked. Make yourself known and get your hands dirty. It is easy to get stuck waiting to be asked to help, but if our ministry leader already feels like he is the only one capable of _____, then he is not going to look for help.
Now, let’s be fair to us. If your ministry leader is enveloped in this level of pride (in either direction mentioned above) the root of the problem is most likely in their own heart. So on top of trying to get involved by helping, learning, and doing, we ought to really spend time praying for them; asking God to bring them to a place where they are confronted with the problems of their heart and leading them to a better place. The scriptures are littered with passages warning us about pride. We are told that pride comes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18.) We are also shown that pride is the reason Satan himself fell from the heavens (Ezekiel 28:12-18.) Pride is a bad thing. It is the sin above all sins because it leads to other sin. Any other sin one commits can be traced to personal pride.
Leading a ministry already subjects one to struggles with pride because the work is generally considered important by many, but if your ministry leader believes they are the only capable of doing _____, it will destroy them.