Earlier this week I went to hang out with a group of church leaders. They are innovative and motivated guys. We were discussing church polity and our own ministries when the congregation turned to reform and I entered into dangerous territory.
You see kids, I’m an addict.
My drug of choice – pride.
As the group spoke of change delusions of grandeur began dancing through my head. Let me give you a glimpse at how this typically plays out in my head:
“We could do this…and then that…and then this…and everyone would think we are awesome…I mean it, the work, is awesome. Yeah the work. We would do all that for the Kingdom. And it would cause reforms all over the country. And peoples lives would be changed. We would probably be asked to speak at conferences or something…and umm…and that would be good because the message of reform would spread…not because I’d be on a stage. I wonder what it is like to speak at one of those conferences. That would be fun. Chill’in in the green room. I think I would be good at that. I wonder what kind of snacks they have. I bet catalyst has the best snacks. I would rock that out….crap!….which would be good because the message would get out and reform could spread. What would the book title be?…..I mean….crap.”
That is the thing about pride. My selfish ambition is so easy to justify when it is directed toward a Kingdom cause. A good friend and mentor, Kyle Dunn, once compared reoccurring temptations (like my struggle with pride) to a monster in the basement. He would say, “You don’t kill it because you think you’ve got it under control. You think you’ve locked safely away it in a cage. Every once in a while you will throw it a bone because it feels good to stroke it a little. The problem is one day you are going to go down there and, not realizing how strong it has become, you are going to try to pet it a little and it is going to rip your arm off.
If you keep it alive, it will kill you. It is not safe. You are not in control.
I see the same kind of delusions of grandeur in Peter in Matthew 16. I have a feeling once Peter got the thumbs up from Jesus his mind began to drift to the great things that were to come. His ego, his monster in the basement, is what gave him the courage to pull Jesus aside a few seconds later and say, “Okay Jesus. I liked the whole ‘I’m the Son of God’ speech you just gave; but this whole ‘I’m gonna die’ crap has got to go.”
And Jesus understood. The monster in the basement has to be put to death. It can’t be left alive. It’s not safe. So Jesus got in Peter’s face and said, “Get behind me Satan.”
Denying myself is a constant bloody battle; but a necessary struggle if I am to seek the Spirit and follow Christ. To use another Kyle-ism, “It is a hill worth dying on.”
Lord, not my way, but yours. Not my dreams, but yours. Not my glory, only yours.