How does a pastor cultivate humility in his life?

I was asked recently by a young man desiring pastoral ministry how a pastor battles his pride and embraces humility?  Without much thought, I fired these 3 things out and upon further reflection would still stand by them:

Surround yourself with other men who will speak with brutal honesty into your life.  Last Saturday, less than 24 hours before I had to step into the pulpit to preach, one of our pastors came to me after reading my sermon with concerns.  Nothing in regard to doctrinal errors.  He just felt like I had lacked the effort in specific and clear application that normally accompany my sermons.  Concerned my very busy week was the culprit, he approached me in love to push me to make some last minute adjustments.  Some would say this was unnecessary and even out of line, but he felt comfortable to do what most pastors would call “off sides” going into Sunday.  His recommendations, as always, proved to be very helpful and my sermon improved because of it.

He, as well as other men in our church, have been faithful to speak with brutal honesty in the same way in regard to other areas of my life.  We all need men who will say things to us no one else will and confront us in ways that will push us to grow in holiness and faithfulness.  Without these kinds of men to contrast the regular amounts of praise we receive from others, pride is certain to take root and grow.

Encourage your wife to be supportive, but unimpressed with you.  This is one of the greatest gifts a pastor can have in ministry.  To read more, see this previous post.

Live as if at any moment you could sin and destroy your ministry.  One of the lies pride can convince us of is that we don’t have to play by the same rules as everybody else.  Regardless, whether you think you can sin in this way or not…you can.  Only a fool would bait the enemy in such a way to say, “No way would I ever cheat on my wife or steal money from the church.”  The men I know who have committed these sins and destroyed their ministries (both who served as pastor of a church where I served on staff) never thought they were capable. 

Though we are not to live with a spirit of fear, it will cultivate humility to live with a healthy fear of the Lord and awareness of the depth and capability of our sinful hearts.  This will only encourage every pastor to walk with the Lord with the kind of brokenness that will protect our hearts and heighten our sensitivity to the ways we struggle with sin.

There are few books I highly recommend more than CJ Mahaney’s book, Humility.  I try to read it every year.  If you have never read it, I strongly encourage you to place it on the top of your list to buy and read.

Posted in Battling Sin, Training for Ministry
6 comments on “How does a pastor cultivate humility in his life?
  1. Dennis Thurman says:

    A needful word. Thanks for reminding us of the danger of disqualification through devilish pride!

  2. Charles says:

    Great post. I would add the importance of staying close to God and His Word. One example comes to mind. Anyone who takes The imperative to be holy as God is holy should keep any pastor humble.

    • Brian Croft says:

      Very true. I would include several other suggestions along those line that many would agree with like being consumed with God’s Word, praying, serving others, etc. all work towards our humility. My hope with the suggestions on this post were of a kind that might not be as obvious to others. Thanks for writing.

  3. Excellent thoughts. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Lance says:

    Brian-

    Thanks so much for all your helpful posts. I was talking about cultivating humility with another pastor that I serve with the other day. We agreed that a plurality of elders/pastors is the perfect enviroment to grow in humility by choosing to submit to one another. This has been true for us at Christ Fellowship.

    Lance Parrott

  5. Steve240 says:

    As was revealed in July of this year, Mahaney did a better job of teaching on humilty than practicing it. As the old cliche goes, those who can’t teach. Even other SGM Leaders were questioning Mahaney publishing a book on humility when he wasn’t practicing it.

    It might be something to keep in perspective when reading Mahaney’s book. There might be some truths in it but the man who wrote the book really didn’t practice all of what he taught.

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