Arrogant leaders have driven more people away from church in recent years than people realize. Arrogance is self sabotage, and nothing will destroy your ministry faster. One rockstar sang, “It’s no surprise to me, I am my own worst enemy.” In Melville’s masterpiece, Moby Dick, Captain Ahab, and First mate Starbuck face off in confrontation. Seizing a loaded musket, Ahab points it at Starbuck exclaiming that there is only one Captain on the ship. Starbucks composes himself and pauses before he exits the room, “Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.”_ Starbuck was right. We are often the monster at the door. Peter said that humility should be possessed “above all” as a cloak that covers our gifts and abilities so that it’s the first thing people see. Humility was at the forefront of Christ’s servant leadership.
Church planters will have to clean toilets, load trailers, sweep floors, and sub in Sunday School. For this reason Paul told Timothy to “watch your life and doctrine closely”. A doctrinally humble Jesus, shouldn’t be preached about by an arrogant leader.
Not Quick tempered, not violent:
Ever want to punch somebody in the head? At church? Oh, you will. Meeting the requirement of not being quick tempered or violent will safeguard you from a split- second reaction that can sabotage a lifetime.
“The wrath of man will never bring about the righteousness that God requires.” James said that, and he should know. Jesus once nicknamed him “Boanerges” or “Son of Thunder”. If you’re a hothead, then it’s going to show. You’ll end up bullying the people around you who will find themselves confused over the reactions that bubble over in their chest every time your pressure cooker explodes. Being a minister requires the ability to stare into the eyes of the enemy on the field of battle and not make any moves. Think “the line of scrimmage” before the football is hiked. Think Qui-Gonn Jin meditating in front of a pacing Darth Maul. Okay, he died, but he died a Jedi. Better to suffer the loss of a battle than the devastation of losing the entire war. Once you lose the war within, the war in your church is lost. Paul suffered a bad temper as evidenced by his quick tongue-lashing before the High Priest after being struck. When he realized his temper had gotten the better of him, he apologized. Holding in your temper doesn’t come easily. It’s learnt behavior…one conflict at a time. The best regime I can prescribe to this is to learn to pray in the moment. As their talking, and you’re staring at their angry sneer, parting to show fangs and flying saliva, just pray. That’s it. It will accomplish two things: 1.) It will help you to practice James’s advice to “Be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry”, but 2.) It will also prevent you from saying anything stupid that you regret later.
Confession time. If there was ever one danger that I had as a Pastor, it was that my temper was gonna land me in jail. Blame it on some beatings I took when I was younger or on my short man syndrome, but I wrestle with these issues almost daily. Before Jesus, it made me an angry person, and as puberty hit, I was out to punish somebody. After encountering Jesus, some of edgier part of my anger vanished, but I also learned to better hide what remained of it. The uncontrolled rage seething under the surface still needed the touch of Jesus. Bruce Banner desperately tried to keep the Hulk pent up inside his purple jeans. Problem was, I knew all of the scriptures, I just didn’t know that Jesus wanted to come deep into the abuse that I’d once suffered and heal me. Until he did, I was a very dangerous person if you pushed certain buttons. You just wouldn’t have thought so by hearing me preach, or sitting across a coffee table with me at Starbucks.
Your issues may pop up in any one of these character zones that Paul lists off, but the real question is ‘Is that area a Jesus free zone’? Have you asked him to inhabit that private world of pain and fill it, break it, heal it? Until you have, it’s probably going to become a liability somewhere down the line and threaten the destruction of your usefulness. For me, it was rage. For you, it may be anything in Paul’s characteristics of leadership.
If you know what it is, then practically speaking, you have a duty to yourself, your family, and the people you lead. First, get alone with Jesus. I mean really alone. Take a pack, some water, a thermos of coffee, a bible, a notebook, and the Holy Spirit. Commit to spending a day away from the face of man, technology, or Starbucks. Get out into God’s country and ask him to meet you there. While praying and fasting, hiking and listening, sitting and meditating, God will turn up. He’ll talk to you about those areas and start to invade all of those parts of you that you’ve tried to pretend don’t exist. I call that going on a date with God, and he knows how to wine and dine you…if you’ll let him.
Once you relax into that time, special things start to happen. Do you know why? You’re actually acting like God is real. You’re giving him a chance. You’re desperate for him.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.