Humility in church leaders


Before removing a fence, a wise man will seek to understand why it was put there in the first place.

When I look at many churches today, I wonder if they have ever heard this proverb. What I see is a forsaking of anything that could be considered traditional coupled with a full embrace of any new method that will promise to fill the pews. The old ideas and boundaries are declared to be out of date and are cast aside as unnecessary.

One such boundary is the need for humility in leaders of the church. Knowing, as we ought to know, that each of us carries the taint of original sin, leaders should welcome the input of others as they speak into our blind spots.

Humility used to be a trait to be admired in church leaders. Pride, after all, has always been considered one of the seven deadly sins.

But, in too many expressions of the local church, the pastor takes on a role that puts him on a pedestal. The life of such a church is centered around the personality of a celebrity pastor.

Knowingly or unknowingly, such a pastor has allowed himself to take on responsibility that ultimately is not his. He has usurped the responsibility for building the church from the true builder, Jesus Christ.

In an attempt at appearing humble while doing this, such a pastor might refer to himself as the “vision caster” or executive leader of the local church. When he does so, this is a signal to me that he has lost sight of his true role as under-shepherd and defender of the flock.

Usually, this usurpation is in response to church growth methodologies that seem to emulate the structures of successful business enterprises. These leaders have chased the shiny lure of “bigger is always better.”

In my experience, every instance of the pastor taking on this type of role, the pastor felt pressured to surround himself with those who agree with him. Thus he works himself into the position where his ideas never get challenged. While this makes it easier to get his ideas implemented, it is usually disastrous for the church. As a result, the “pastor” becomes a dictator rather than a shepherd.

How many examples do we need to see of mega churches falling into disarray when the pastor leaves the ministry due to age or scandal before we figure out that personality centered churches are not a great idea?