Taking a Look at the Problem of Pride in the Church


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If you expect more genuine humility within the walls of the church than anywhere else, you'll be disappointed. Let's talk about pride in the Church.

If you’re one of those people who expects more genuine humility within the walls of the church than anywhere else on the planet, I’m sorry to say, you’d be wrong.

Jesus had some pretty direct things to say about being humble. So, I’m quite confident this is not a new problem.

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” Matthew 5:5

“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:24

“Whoever makes himself great will be made humble. Whoever makes himself humble will be made great.” Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11

Even the apostles who walked with Jesus had humility issues.

In Matthew 20, James and John wanted places of honor in Jesus kingdom. And in Luke 9:46 the disciples actually had an argument over which of them was the greatest.

We shouldn’t be surprised, should we?

Who is the best musician? Who gets to teach? Who gets to make important decisions? Who has the most influence over the pastor and leaders? Who bakes the best brownies? (Okay maybe not that one, but you get the idea.)

I’ve even seen the people who consider themselves to be the largest contributors believe they should have more influence over the happenings at the church. Or what about those who spend the most time there? Aren’t they more important?

It’s a problem.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Let’s Take a Look at the Problem of Pride in the Church

If you expect more genuine humility within the walls of the church than anywhere else, you'll be disappointed. Let's talk about pride in the Church.

I want to introduce you to a couple who showed us, Jesus.

Tilden and Loretta were members of our small congregation.

Tilden greeted everyone with a big ol’ bear hug and the words, “Do you how much Jesus loves you?” Then he and his dear wife, Loretta would show you.

You see, Tilden and Loretta served. There was no job too small.

Whether it was setting up or taking down chairs, washing dishes, visiting someone who was sick, sharing a meal, or anything else . . . Tilden and Loretta had it covered.

They weren’t looking for big assignments that came with pats on the back and lots of recognition; they did the small tasks that most people ran from. They took the lowest place.

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice:

Don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed.

“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Luke 20:7–10

The best part . . . I not only remember them humbly doing; more than anything, I remember their joy. They just bubbled with the joy that comes from knowing and loving Jesus. Their contagious joy rubbed off on everyone around them.

Humble servants. I don’t remember many people who gave more of their time serving at our church than these two, and yet I never saw them leverage it for their own advantage or status.

I believe one their secrets was a short prayer Tilden taught me. A promise he prayed each morning.

Yes! I have surrendered this day to God. I will follow where He guides and I will do His will as He reveals it to me. Amen. 

I wish I had a picture of these two giants of faith to share with you. But maybe it’s okay. Maybe there is a face you can put with my memories. Maybe you know precious God-given blessings like Tilden and Loretta.

If you expect more genuine humility within the walls of the church than anywhere else, you'll be disappointed. Let's talk about pride in the Church.

One last thought…

 If you’ve ever been put off, hurt, or offended by our failure to show you humble love at our churches please forgive us. We are deeply sorry.

You see, we’re forgiven and loved by Jesus just like you, but we are still so very far from following Him perfectly. We don’t even follow Him the way we’d like to follow Him let alone the way He commanded. We need His grace and yours every day.

We want to do better and with His help, we will. We’ll begin by trusting that Jesus’ way of humility really is best for the family who loves Him and hopes to share His love with the world.

We hope you’ll give us another chance to show you the humble love of Jesus.

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  1. Beautiful, Deb. There are several people that come to mind when I think about those who serve humbly–and with joy. When I have the opportunity to serve alongside them, I experience joy, too. Thanks for this. (And thanks for including me in your feature this week.) Love you, Deb.

    1. It is a blessing to serve beside humble joy-filled servants. You’re welcome! I loved your post! Blessings to you!!

  2. Love, love, love Tilden’s prayer! I have written it down so I can say it each morning, too. And yes, I’ve been blessed to know folks like Loretta and Tilden. They are humble servants and doers of the Word.
    Blessings, Deb, and have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks, Martha! I remember the day Tilden shared his prayer in Bible Class. I stopped the class and asked him to repeat it slowly so I could write it in the back of my Bible. It has blessed me for many years! God’s blessings to you by friend!

  3. I loved your story about Tilden and Loretta. I’ve known some people like that. They’re a joy to be around and an inspiration.
    I’m praying Tilden’s prayer today and sharing this post all around!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! They were awesome role models for so many of us at our church. I just loved being around them. I can still picture getting a big ol’ hug and being reminded of Jesus love. Blessings and hugs to you!!

  4. “I will do His will as He reveals it to me!” I pray that I would do God’s will as He reveals it to me. I pray that I would serve God without seeking recognition from others! When we serve God with a pure heart we will have joy! Thank you for this great post and for hosting the link party!

  5. What a beautiful prayer! Thanks for sharing your friends with us, Deb. This really ministered to me today. Hugs

  6. You are so right, Deb! We do have a different set of expectations of our brothers and sisters in church or anywhere else. Too often we expect near perfection in how they represent our Lord, forgetting we ourselves do not and no one can. We forget He always intended us to recognize He is the only One who is perfect and no one else can ever love, accept, encourage, etc. us as well as He does! Always a blessing to read your words, my friend!

  7. Anna Smit says:

    It’s funny you’ve written on this, Deb, because it’s something I’ve been reflecting on so much this week. I’ve just finished reading through Jeremiah and what I found fascinating was how God’s people kept falling prey to idol worship, rooted in pride (once it mentioned it being based on wealth and good deeds).

    In retreating from Facebook and Twitter for ten days recently, feeling called to do so, I started realizing how I’d once again fallen prey to idol worship and pride myself. I had become tight-fisted in my encouragement of others because fear, rooted in lies, told me I didn’t belong. And because I felt like an outcast, I started acting like one- my pride telling me I’d be better off hiding, not being shown up as a failure. But this fear had grown because I stopped looking at God and His Word for the truth of my identity and worth. If I really receive all the Love He holds out to me, by remaining in His beautiful Word…I have no need to fear, compare or feel unworthy…and no need to resort to pride to survive, but rather am encouraged to thrive in the balm of His Love.

    So, all this to say that I’ve realized pride for me stems from turning away from beholding God to comparing myself to others. Interestingly HELPP word studies has this to say about pride: “In Scripture, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“lowliness, humility”) is an inside-out virtue produced by comparing ourselves to the Lord (rather than to others). This brings behavior into alignment with this inner revelation to keep one from being self-exalting (self-determining, self-inflated). For the believer, 5012 /tapeinophrosýnē (“humility”) means living in complete dependence on the Lord, i.e. with no reliance on self (the flesh).” My girls depend on me because they know I love them: they expect me to protect, nurture and encourage them. And they know I love them because we spend so much time together…and me stopping work has only reinforced this bond….so just like my girls, the more time I spend with my Heavenly Father, the more my trust and love will grow and the less I’ll feel inclined to resort to human pride. But unlike for my girls with their imperfect Mum, my Heavenly Father’s Good and Perfect Love will never disappoint me. What an awesome truth is that?!

  8. Oh my goodness, this post is so inspiring! It has caused me to examine my motives in how I serve in the church. Thank you for sharing Tilden and Loretta’s example of selfless service unto the Lord. I’ll be sharing this one on FB. Thanks for hosting and have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  9. Kim Jolly says:

    Deb, You’re correct, pride is a problem in the church–I’ve seen it and experienced it. I’m also guilty as charged. The couple you shared about sound amazing–they really showed people Jesus!


  10. Deb,
    You nailed this! I think this is probably the biggest detractor of the church! People walk through our doors and instead of being welcomed in, they are kept are arms length. Why? We are afraid of losing our place of rank. Our recognition being less because someone else may be able to bring more. I can honestly say that our church body right now has less of that than in any church I have ever attended in my life. But our church also preaches “there is more to life than me”. It keeps an environment of humility. However, this is a huge problem in the school my boys attend – a Christian school. The open arms have not been there in that environment!

  11. Dean Cole says:

    Very good topic discussion. It is a serious matter at some places, but we all have to focus on the important things. Let’s try to collaborate and embrace yourself to a new level. Do not Look what others do and what they think. At least that is what I am doing. Care for your own actions.

  12. Karen Grosz says:

    Thanks for sharing at Let’s Get Real Friday Party. Yes, I can picture a couple who is like that as well as a beautiful lady. Always doing the jobs that need to be done. I strive to be more like that.

  13. Really love this article. Thanks for the eye opener to pride in the church. I learned a valuable lesson.

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