After submitting the first installment of this series the little conscience imp on my right shoulder said, “How come your only example of a pastor’s pride problem was the pastor of the other church?” I saw his point and on the spot repented, and herewith repent to you as you read this addendum.
I, like all pastors, and like all Christians, constantly fight pride. It is part of our sin nature, and Satan knows just how to trigger manifestations of that pride. If we can recognize it as it begins to rise up, confess it and repent, we are forgiven and the ugly manifestation is avoided. Thank God for that way of escape.
Anyway, I am going to share one of my own pride experiences. It happened before I became a pastor, and I am choosing this example as during it God mercifully showed me the above mentioned method of dealing with pride.
Alva and I had been in charge of the Junior High Sunday School at a Baptist Church in Southern California for several years, mentored by Betty Johnson, its Director of Christian Education. Betty organized a Saturday “Day of Inspiration” for all Sunday School teachers and prospective teachers. After the morning meeting we were to divide into three break-off meetings. Betty would teach one on a given subject, another lady would teach a second on another subject, and I would teach the third on the subject of end-time prophecy, a subject that I loved and had studied considerably and had taught in my ninth grade Sunday School class.
I was thrilled. I was flattered to have been chosen by Betty Johnson to teach the teachers. I was looking forward to showing off my knowledge of the subject. So far it hadn’t occurred to me that I was off on an ego trip.
Saturday arrived, the morning assembly and lunch were over, and it was time for the break-off meetings-take your pick. Betty’s room was full. The other lady teacher had a goodly number. Russ Peters had none. Zero. I was a teacher without a single student! How humiliating.
I began to suspect that Jesus was saying something to me. Something like, “What were your motives as you approached this?” It came to my mind that my motives all centered around me-not Jesus and the things of the Kingdom. I was shocked at my callousness, really repented, and asked Jesus to forgive me. He did, and I felt a sweet peace with no vestige of shame or humiliation remaining. But what should I do? I decided to go the second class and see what I could learn.
Of course when I entered her room it was a disturbance. With all eyes on me, she asked me what was going on. I told her that no one showed up and could I please come and be blessed by her teaching?
She would have none of that. She told me my subject matter was much more interesting than hers and insisted that she and the others in the room wanted to hear about end time prophecy. She sat down, and motioned me up to the podium. What a gracious lady!
So I said a silent prayer to Jesus that I would present the subject correctly and with the right motive. They all listened with rapt attention, were thrilled with the promises in all the supporting scriptures.
I finished on time, and many came up and thanked me, saying they were going away “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, please read the whole passage, verses 11-14).
I have never forgotten that lesson. Things don’t always turn out that well, but in the many years since it has served me well. Thank you Jesus!