4 CHECK MARKS FOR YOUR EGO AS A YOUTH WORKER
There’s no quicker pathway towards humility than a huge fall. Can you get there without a huge fall? One thing that I’ve learned in over 15 years of youth ministry, is that PRIDE can destroy a person as quickly as anything. I’ve watched it time and time again. A leader or person’s pride gets the best of them. They think they are indestructible, and down they fall.
Proverbs 16 reminds us that pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.
I was a pretty prideful person early on in my career. It was 2005, and I just landed my first youth ministry job. I remember the Senior Pastor, in my interview, telling me that he liked me, but my age scared him to death.
In my mind, I thought that was the most ridiculous thing ever…
He didn’t know me.
He didn’t know what I was capable of.
He should be thrilled to hire me.
I was prideful, and I had an ego.
The truth was, I didn’t know me, and I didn’t know what I was capable of, but I was pretty sure I would blow the roof of the joint and be the best youth pastor they ever had…FROM DAY 1. How absurd and naïve.
Today, I’m 38, and I have a strong feeling that 15 years from now, I’m going to look back at myself in my 30’s and realize I knew nothing then either. Ironically, the older and more experienced I become, the less pride fills my life. I think it’s because I’ll realize, years from now, how much I truly didn’t know, and that there are always people who will know more.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about pride as well as a couple of ways we can stay grounded, because a leader who is grounded can’t fall hard.
Pride signifies you have no room for growth.
Pride can be evident in young ministry leaders as well as old ministry leaders. Young leaders often feel like they are going to come in and make things better, because they are more in touch with the younger generation. Likewise, once you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s easy to feel like you know it all.
When you have no room for growth, you have no room to lead for the long run.
If you’re not growing as a leader, eventually you will have nowhere to lead the people you’re leading. If you think you’ve made it to your destination, there’s literally nowhere else you can go. It’s a very dangerous position to be in when you’re not open to learning from others.
Speaking as someone who is younger than a lot of ministry leaders, as well as older than a lot of ministry leaders, I completely realize that I can learn from those on both sides of me. I can learn from those more experienced, and I can learn from those more relevant.
When you enter each day ready to learn, you will lead more effectively, and keep your ego and pride more in check.
We use pride to hide our insecurities.
The problem with my 22 year-old self, is that the Senior Pastor hurt my pride by questioning my ability. At that moment, defense mechanisms kicked in, and I began to use pride to hide what I didn’t know. Deep down, I knew I didn’t know it all, but I didn’t want anyone to find that out, especially the Senior Pastor. So, I began to use pride as a wall. It came out in Staff Meetings when I began to question things, and it came out in conversations with other staff.
When you point out the faults and shortcomings of others, that’s a sign that you’re deflecting your faults and shortcomings.
We point to others to deflect from us.
And when you regularly criticize others, you’re stating that you know more than they do. In reality, you’re just keeping people out from knowing the real you.
Meet with people farther along than you.
Let’s be honest. Our pride grows and falls, many times, depending on our circumstances or who we are with. No lie, I’ve gone from very prideful in a room full of people to very humble with the entrance of another person. It’s natural to feel a little pride when you’re the more seasoned leader in the room. But as soon as someone else more seasoned walks in, your pride melts away. Meeting with people who are farther down the road than you is crucial to keeping your pride in check.
Whenever I gather with other Next Gen Pastors that are smarter than me and have more “successful” ministries than me, it keeps me grounded. Whenever I meet with people who are farther down the road spiritually than me, it challenges me to grow.
When there’s a realization that you can be better, it’s easier to keep your pride in check.
Meet with other ministry leaders that are farther along spiritually, and in their field, on a regular basis.
Ultimately, follow the example of the One we follow.
There’s no greater example of humility than Jesus. The one who could’ve been prideful, because there was truly no one below him, humbled himself. We see this when he washed his disciples’ feet, and we see it on the cross.
A true leader leads out of humility.
When your pride and ego are in check, you will be a better leader, a better spouse, a better parent, a better co-worker, a better friend, and a better person. And you will be someone that others want to be around. Recognize your pride points and check them at the door!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.