Catch You Later

Four years ago I joined Twitter.

Three-and-a-half years ago I started a blog.

Three years ago God taught me a big lesson in humility.

Sometime in the last 18 months I forgot it.

I began to focus on my own personal success. I wanted to be one of the cool pastors, speaking at conferences and writing books.  I've been using Twitter and this blog and twitter to grow my platform and increase my influence.  I've wanted to meet people simply because they were influential and could help me further my career.

At some point I became more focused on the number of people following me than the number of people following Christ

Five weeks ago God began convicting me of my pride.

Rachel and I were on vacation in Seattle, and we visited Mars Hill Church.  The sermon that week was based on Luke 22:24-30, wherein the disciples begin arguing about which of them is the greatest.

Mars Hill is preaching through the book of Luke over the course of two years, and I just happen to be on vacation in Seattle the weekend they preach on pride?  I guess you could chalk it up to coincidence.

The previous weekend we began a sermon series at NCC called "The Three Headed Dragon" in which the first sermon addressed—you guessed it—the sin of pride.

So two weekends in a row I hear two sermons on pride from two different pastors on opposite sides of the country?

God was trying to tell me something, something I really didn't want to hear.

In his sermon at Mars Hill Mark Driscoll posed seven questions that we can ask ourselves to help us determine if we're pursuing Godly greatness or worldly greatness.  I think the last one was the most convicting.

Would you rather achieve a status or make a difference?

Would you rather have a real impact or just get noticed, have the title, the promotion, the recognition?

I realized that I wasn't sure I could honestly answer that question the way it should be answered.

What a fun thing to think about on the first day of vacation, huh?

As our vacation continued I began to question if maybe I needed to give up blogging for a while, but thought "I can't do it now. The Catalyst conference is coming up, and I need to be able to make connections and get more blog readers and Twitter followers while I'm there."

And so I didn't do it, and I went into Catalyst more focused on making connections than listening for what God wants to do in my ministry.

But these thoughts, this idea of fasting from my blog, stuck with me, and God has a way of breaking through.

The first day at Catalyst I went to a session by Michael Hyatt on the heart of a leader, and God went to work on my heart.

Suddenly Catalyst became not primarily about making connections and not even primarily about my ministry.  It became about the condition of my own heart.  And as I listened to speaker after speaker God continued to show me not how I could use their messages to change my ministry but rather how I could use them to change my heart.

Tied in with all of this is an awareness that over the past few months I have become more judgmental, hypercritical, and less happy.  I've been getting angry far to easily and far too often.  It's hard to explain exactly how this is related to my pride and desire for self-promotion, but it is.

At the end of Catalyst they asked us to write down two things that we needed to take away from the conference.  I wrote:

  • Lead and pastor out of overflow of my relationship with Christ.
  • Seek to make God's name famous, not my own.

And so in an effort to combat my pride and soften my calloused heart, I have made the decision to take a step back from Twitter and blogging for a while, as they have been two of the biggest outlets for my pride.

Deciding to give them up started as a very difficult decision but after being made became a very obvious one.  Even though I haven't actually begun the fast, just making the decision is already changing my heart.  I've started having all of these ideas for new blog posts, but rather than my primary motivation to write them being to draw attention to myself, I genuinely want them to to help others learn and grow.

Alas, those posts will have to wait for another time, as I'll be off of Twitter and blogging for about a month.  At that point I plan to re-evaluate the condition of my heart and see if I need to continue the fast.

During these weeks I'll be putting a renewed emphasis on growing my relationship with Christ, and I'll probably write some stuff that you guys won't see for a little while.  I might even tackle a couple of projects that have been rolling around in my head.  I'd covet your prayers during this period.

If you typically talk with me on Twitter and want to get in touch with me, just drop a comment here, and I'll shoot you an e-mail.  I'll also still be on Facebook, so you can hit me up there.

While this is the story of my struggle with pride, I'd encourage you to use it as an opportunity to examine your own heart and motivations.  Ask yourself those seven questions I mentioned, and if my story sounds like your story, fight the battle with pride now.  The longer you wait the more damage it will do.

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Seven Questions to Determine if You’re Pursuing Godly Greatness or Worldly Greatness

Last night I worshiped at Mars Hill's Downtown CampusMark Driscoll preached out of Luke 22:24-30, a familiar passage in which Jesus' disciples are arguing over who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Of course, Jesus tells them that to be the greatest you must be the servant of all.  Here are a few thoughts from the sermon:

Sometimes, we fail to do our best because as followers of Jesus we want to remain humble.  We don't want to develop proud hearts, but this is the wrong course of action.  It is false humility.

What kind of person doesn't want to be a great parent, great businessperson, great spouse, great friend, or great neighbor?

It's good to want to be great.  Great people make a difference.  Great people advance the Kingdom of God.  Great people change the world.

The real question is: Are you pursuing Godly greatness or worldly greatness? Are you seeking greatness by serving others or serving self?  Try answering these seven questions:

  1. Do you welcome Jesus to serve you?
    Unless Jesus serves you, you can't truly serve God.  You need the grace provided by His service on the cross.  You cannot come to God on your own, and it is the ultimate expression of pride to attempt to do so.
  2. Do you humbly allow others to serve you?
    Jesus was the ultimate servant, but he was also served by others. Don't try to be self-sufficient and rob others of the joy of serving you.
  3. Do you humbly serve others with selfless motives?
    We never have totally pure motives, but what are your primary motivations?  Are they recognition or reward, or are you serving out of love for God and others?
  4. Are you willing to do menial tasks?
    Are there things that are beneath you? Nothing was beneath Jesus.
  5. Are you lazy or disorganized?
    You might be immensely humble, but you'll never be as good as you could be if you are lazy or disorganized.
  6. Is your life marked more by giving or getting?
    Are you more concerned with what you can get from others or what you can give to them?
  7. Would you rather achieve a status or make a difference?
    What's more important to you, that you get recognition or that you are actually able to get something done, to serve others.

Your answers should give you a good indication of what type of greatness you're pursuing.

These questions are especially important for those of us in leadership.  The greater our platform, our influence, and our success, the easier it is to focus on self rather than Christ.

How would you answer these questions?

Photo by Billy Hathorn

Whack Your Pride

Leadership Lesson #4: Make sure you keep whacking your pride with a stick.

I think I’m pretty great, and I want other people to know it. I want to be recognized for being at the top of my field.  I want people to look at me with awe and wonder.

Being in leadership nearly always means people are looking at you.  You’re more visible than average.  If you’re any good at it, you’ll probably continue to become more visible and well known.  Most of us thrive on that recognition.

Contrast that desire with these realities:

  1. In his best-seller, From Good to Great, researcher and author Jim Collins says that humility is what differentiates a good leader from a top leader.
  2. Renowned author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says that those who truly effect change don’t demand credit.
  3. The Bible says that anyone who wants to be the greatest must be the servant of all.

Pride isn’t just a sin.  It actually keeps you from reaching your potential.  You’ll never be all you can be or do all you can do while you’re more concerned about your appearance than your character and competency.  In other words, if you want to be great, keep whacking your pride with a stick.