Do You Have Something to Prove?

bible perspective

I remember sitting in a mentorship group years ago. I was with three other guys my age, along with an older counselor known as one of the premier supports for pastors in ministry. I was invited into this group because we were all planning on becoming Lead Pastors one day. This was a chance for us to dig deeper into our own development in the years to come.

I wrote a key takeaway from one of those conversations: "A position of power can wreak havoc on you if you have something to prove."

The years since that conversation have only proven the validity of this statement. All four of us in that group would become Lead Pastors. Interestingly, two of us would later choose to walk away from the role completely.

When I think of my time as Lead Pastor, I can reflect on decisions I would make differently today. Many of those decisions resulted from something inside me trying to prove my value. To myself or others... or maybe even to God. The need to prove yourself in that role can constantly sneak up on you.

But I have also watched that role absolutely wreck people. Many leaders have come and gone and been destroyed by the effects of that stage. We see it in the marriages destroyed, relationships with kids sacrificed, and integrity traded for some greater good. The stage of a church on the weekend offers a uniquely tempting allure to many people. It can turn leaders into kings (it's usually males we're talking about here). And for many pastors, it wreaks havoc on the person.

But it isn't just ministry. The power of being a parent and getting to make decisions for another human can mess a person up. We've all seen parents like that. The power of being someone's boss at work can mess a person up. Even the power of attention, which social media offers us, can also distort us.

It reminds me of an answer I once heard, even though its context is now lost. I remember someone being asked how much a church should pay their Lead Pastor. He replied that you should pay him well and then see what he does with it. I'm conflicted on well pastors should be paid, but the logic of the statement holds true.

I watched the Barbie movie with my kids this week. It's loaded with quite a few statements to make, and one of them seemed to be we need to figure out who we really are without needing another person (or the beach). Barbie tries to help Ken figure this out.

  • Ken: I just don't know who I am without you.
  • Barbie: You're Ken.
  • Ken: But it's Barbie and Ken. There's no just Ken. That's why I was created. I only exist within the warmth of your gaze. Without it, I'm just a little blond guy who can't do flips.

Many of us can relate to Ken. We often use power to figure out who we are. And that's a bad way to find yourself. If you need power to be who you think you are, you haven't yet found the real you.

This is an opportunity for self-assessment for each of us. Where do we use power in our lives? More importantly, how is that power affecting us? For too many of us, our power has not brought out the best in us but the worst in us. That's why we often are (rightfully) skeptical of power in the first place.

We would do well to reflect on the Apostle Paul's advice to imitate Jesus.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

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