Danger of Arrogance in the Pulpit
Pastors are extremely busy. There is a constant demand for their time and resources. Unfortunately, the first thing to go is often taking a sabbath day off. There is so much to do, and all of it seems good and worthwhile. After all the Bible tells us to give our all for ministry, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16 KJV) It can be very tempting to think “God cannot do this work without me.” The truth Is God is wiser than all the pastors in the world combined. When a pastor takes a regular day for the sabbath they step out on faith that God will continue working even when they are not. This is what it looks like to acknowledge that God is in control.
A pastor or Christian leader begins telling God that they are wiser than He is when they get into a mindset that they are indispensable. They start to think no one else can fill in for them. Isaiah 5:21 gives the reminder, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”
Pride was the sin that caused Satan to think he could put his throne above God’s, which got him thrown out of Heaven. He appealed to the pride of Adam and Eve tempting them in the Garden of Eden. He conveyed the impression that they could become “like God” by simply eating the fruit God had forbidden them to eat.
Pride and arrogance may seem harmless, but can be devastating to a minister. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18:9-14:
“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
One may think this parable is just for those legalistic pastors who think they are wiser than anyone else and it does not apply to them. But it becomes apparent reading the gospels, that even the disciples had issues with pride and arrogance. They were caught having an argument over who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told the disciples the one who is humble as a little child is the greatest. If even the Apostles had to wrestle with pride and arrogance, no one should be tempted to think they are exempt.
There is another Old Testament example of the consequences of relying on one’s own ability instead of on God. King David was a mighty warrior and was blessed by the Lord. He had a loyal army that could fight. However, King David decided to number his people to determine how much power he actually had. This displeased the Lord. 1 Chronicles 21:1 records this saying, “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” David may have been considering a military draft and wanted to know how many people he could conscribe into military service. The point is, David had no reason to know these numbers if he fully trusted the Lord. God assured King David He would fight for Israel. By numbering the people, David was showing his own doubt and distrust of the Lord. He was taking pride in and trusting in his own abilities.
Pride can be summarized as an arrogant attitude of self-sufficiency. This definition of pride can be demonstrated in habitually omitting a sabbath. By skipping out on taking a Sabbath we are promoting our own self-importance. Following a regular rhythm of observing a sabbath puts trust back on God and that He will help accomplish what needs to be done in six days instead of seven. Sabbath keeping takes away self-exaltation and the philosophy that God needs a particular individual to accomplish his purposes and cannot use anyone else.
The challenge for you is to step out on faith that God will cause things to come together in six days, and take the seventh as a day of rest, worship, and recreation. Realize that God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will. He chooses to use us, but He wants to have fellowship with us. He has a rest available for us, and we can spend time in spiritual formation. As a pastor or Christian leader, there are those who look up to you, and will want to do what you do. If you never take a break, they will not either. If they see you take a day off once a week, for rest, worship, and recreation, they will follow in your example.