Check Your Ego at the Door

There is a quote from Mike Yaconelli that has been resonating in my mind over the past 48 hours, so I thought I would share it with you. It is worth reading and letting the impact of these statements truly sink into your mind.

Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their “unique ministry”, which is another term for “my ministry”. It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the “great need”… which is really the need to be needed.

Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Think of all the supporters of para-church organizations that are supporting the ego of their “founder and president.” Think of all the churches and organizations that are supporting the egos of their “internationally known speakers.”

The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus. (The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992)

I wish I had written that, but I didn’t so the best I can do is share it with you. Read this one line again, Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Do you find yourself shaking your head at the truth of that statement like I do? I have been on both sides of this equation and know it to be true.

It is happening not only in “big” churches, but also in churches of all sizes. We can’t just point to the Saddlebacks and WillowCreeks of the world and shake a finger. No need to look at the Osteens, the Warrens and the Hybels of the church world to search for the ego-addicts…simply look in the mirror. If pastors and church leaders are honest they will admit it is true in their lives and churches as well.

22 Replies to “Check Your Ego at the Door”

  1. Steve, I absolutely COULDN’T AGREE MORE. At the end of the day – after all of the programs, and prayer meetings, marketing designs, leadership teams, fundraising efforts, music-producing, coffee-serving, kiddie-drop off, 3-point sermons, packaged-truth mega-ministry pomp and show… what is left that Jesus seemed to care about at all? He never did any of this; he never tried to build a church or start new programming; he didn’t write a book. He just loved people. He spoke truth into their lives. He cared for them. Healed their wounds. Gave. And at the end of His life, there were really only a little more than a dozen that he was really close to. Is there any place for the “mega-minstry” in the body of Christ, whose ultimate goal is to… just keep on growing? “But we want to keep growing so that the gospel can be taken to the world…” Fine. Sow into lives, and let them go. Don’t keep them under your name, or on your salary… just let them go and live and share life. It seems so rare for an institution to not ultimately become more about serving itself and those that lead it. It’s the reversal of John the Baptist’s confession: “We must increase so that You may decrease.”What a sick perversion of where it all began.

  2. “btw- I ended the 20th Anniversary Episode, so THERE!!”G’day Satan.I’m gay…and I’ve been told by many Christians that you’re my father.So….ummmm…’s mum?

  3. ricky,I can definitely see that. I think the reason I asked the wuestion is because I tend to always bring the problems of a group down to the problems of the individuals within the group.I guess it’s because I don’t feel like I can change anyone but myself, so I’m looking for the guilt in me. (you know, that whole ‘part of the solution’ thing…)Check out < HREF="" REL="nofollow">yaconelli<>

  4. <>child sexual abuse, the driving of gay people to suicide, the misuse of funds, and other illegal or unethical activity.<>or<>“Been bashed with a baseball bat by street thugs? Well, get over it, because street thugs aren’t perfect”<>[sarcasm] Yeah. This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I made that statement. [/sarcasm]Dude! Drink less coffee (and lighten up!).btw- I ended the 20th Anniversary Episode, so THERE!!🙂 [for the record, all I’ve addressed to you is in jest. I only say this bc you cannot see the smile on my face as I type.]

  5. <>coh<>:<>in the end, we can try to blame minister for what the church has become today, but in reality, i think they are just delivering exactly what the masses want.<>So are you saying it’s the desire of the people that’s fueling the misdirection of the church? Churches are ineffective because pastors pander to the congregations desire for mediocrity, instead of inspiring them to Christlikeness?I used to always say, ‘If the people would lead, the leaders would follow’. Maybe there IS something to it…

  6. Unfortunately, I must agree totally. I consider myself a good Christian, and I even work at a church as a custodian. Full time; it’s a huge church. They are building a new childrens building and have bought their own t.v. station to broadcast services. The pastor is big on tithing and preaches that we must all do it faithfully, so that we can continue these great works for God. He recently built a million dollar home and bought his wife a Lexus with those tithes. I and the other custodians get eight dollars an hour. One custodian has worked faithfully for the church for twenty years. He gets eight dollars an hour. Never had a raise. Yet they continue to tell us what blessings we are and how important our service is, and how God will bless us abundantly. I hope so, cuz the church never will.

  7. No way Jeff, because it’s the excuse-all mindset that looks the other way at ANYTHING wrong in church, from ordering the wrong size paper clips, right up to genocide.I’ve seen the cliche` used to excuse child sexual abuse, the driving of gay people to suicide, the misuse of funds, and other illegal or unethical activity.Every time I try to discuss something that’s a problem in church life, that cliche` gets thrown back at me.So I’ve come to believe in ‘zero tolerance’ on that front, or Rudy’s ‘Broken Windows’ strategy…for the church….because the ‘we’re not perfect’ mentality crushes many people’s lives.“Been bashed with a baseball bat by street thugs? Well, get over it, because street thugs aren’t perfect” :/And I can ‘lighten up’. I did the opening of the 20th anniversary episode.

  8. Just so cloud doesn’t feel alone, I love my pastor too. My church is great! Do we have our problems? Yes. Do I agree with everything? No.But hey… If I ever found the ‘perfect’ church, I wouldn’t go, cuz I’d screw it up…(I still agree that all pastors need to resign the ‘pastorate’ and start shepherding)

  9. Jeff said:<>So are you saying it’s the desire of the people that’s fueling the misdirection of the church?<>Jeff, I’m not going to speak for eddieO, but to me what he is saying is that pastors are very much like politicians who, in order to guarantee their “re-election,” <>must<> give their constituents (i.e., congregations) what they want to hear.Conversely, the today’s congregations are more like people on welfare. While most people on welfare may not really want to be dependent upon another, they also feel trapped in it by their own ignorance and fear.Remember, a “spiritual welfare” mentality has existed within the church for centuries, spawning new generations of the dependent. But where has all this gotten them?Take a look at New Orleans and you’ll see today’s “church.” People so lulled into believing that someone else will protect them from nature’s power that many lost their lives waiting on those who selfishly took care of themselves first.

  10. <><>“Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers.”<><>the key word here is “supporting” and not “ego.” an ego cannot exist unless there are people who are actively supporting it. in the end, we can try to blame minister for what the church has become today, but in reality, i think they are just delivering exactly what the masses want.but hey, what do i know…eddieO

  11. ricky, i’m 25. it seems to me you’re implying something…are you calling me short? or is it my high-pitched voice? is it because i’m not bitching about my pastor (or [i]the establishment[/i]) that i seem young?your rhetoric about pastors needing to impress their ‘constituents’ in order to get the vote is immature. your rhetoric about calling people who were forced to leave their homes in NO ‘selfish’ because they didn’t stay is immature. careful with your broad strokes…you’re getting paint all over your good clothes.all said with love, but with a hint of irritation…

  12. I too agree that the “church” today is totally out of control. It seems to has direction but no destination. We are to serve. But everything ruinedforlife pointed to as a negative could be viewed as a way of serving. For example, fundraising efforts. What’s the purpose of this? Depends on what the funds are for. If it’s to donate to homeless shelters, food banks, substance abuse help centers, etc., then the efforts to raise funds are good. But if it’s to build a new wing for movie night to bring the “lost” in, so they can be folded into the “membership”, you have to wonder is that what God truly wants.Coffee serving and kiddie drop off, could also be viewed as serving, the only problem is it only serves within the current body of the church. But if you take those two services out of church and offer them to the public, free of charge or for a minimal charge to cover operating expenses only, not for a profit, then that is a good way of serving.I fear that the church I’m attending now, Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, Arizona falls into the mega-church category. The refreshing thing about it though is that they train followers to serve Him and then they tell you to “get out”. We learn who Jesus is, how to grow to be like Him and then how to go out into the community and serve Him. What I think needs to happen ultimately is to copy the model Jesus set up. We should have a small group of no more than 12 to a group, and we don’t meet at a building called church, we have church when we get together and serve the world. After all a church is described as a body of believers, not a building where we congregate to serve coffee, have our kids taken off our hands while we pat each other on the back about how “good” we all are, while the rest of the world asks itself where it’s going and why it’s in this handbasket.YBIC,Zecryphon

  13. The ‘church’ is made up of church-people. The reason the church is ego-addicted is because WE are ego-addicted.Even when we get into small groups, we want to pray the best sounding prayers, or maybe we want to pray these conversational prayers that don’t sound too ‘religious’ so our relationship sounds real with God and we come off as truly more spiritual because we talk to God like we do people… (breath) you know what I mean.It happens on the blogs, it happens when we have ‘intense-fellowship’ with our spouses,neighbors or friends… or when we talk down to our kids (or when they talk back)… it’s all ego-driven.So imagine how wonderful the kingdom of God becomes when we put all those ego-driven personalities into a building and command them to all get along… yikes!And I’m the guiltiest of all…

  14. I love my church. I love my pastor. I feel bad that you guys have satan-ego-face for your pastors. That must be a bummer. I hope he’s underpaid.

  15. Sorry dude… listen again. I was actually Beavis & Butthead (and also Jeff, from ‘demerging’). Satan was in the 21st podcast, because he called in late or something…How sad is it that I know all this?!?Sincerely,jeff<>Official Stupid Church People Podcast Historian / Statistician<>

  16. Can we please ban all Christians from using the cliche` “If I ever found the perfect church, I wouldn’t go because I’d screw it up”?

  17. I agree that there’s alot of ego-driven activity within the Church. I don’t think that’s the core problem but it’s there. However, if a shift in paradigm is really going to occur within Christendom, then it’s going to have to happen on both ends – both in leadership and the people. I hate saying “both ends” but the truth is that the modern Church <>is<> top-down.I think books and speakers serve a purpose – leaders read them and listen to them. Perhaps it’s because they simply want to know the latest and greatest “model” but the reality is the leaders are doing it. So are the people. So we need books and speakers who will shape paradigms. Granted, many of these “Purpose-Driven…” type books and speakers don’t help (they contribute to stupid church people being stupid church people), but there are others who are challenging this paradigm – pointing out the fact that they are stupid.Nevertheless, the leaders’ paradigms need to be shaped or else nothing will change. The pastors are the ones leading the staff meetings saying “This is what we should do” or “This is what we’re gonna do”. And so what the people see from the “pews” is what the leaders present. On the flip side, the people need to live out their faith without waiting for permission from their pastor or feeling like they need to have someone lay hands on them or feeling like they need to start some kind of official “ministry”. They’ll start doing this if the seed or idea is planted in them. Books and speakers serve that purpose. I’m not one for feeding into a dying system, but i do believe that if there’s going to be a shift in the way the Church sees itself in this world, then we’ll need tools to help shape it – from the top-down and from the bottom-up at the same time. Books and speakers stimulate conversation. Everyone’s got an ego. Everyone’s got an opinion. But those stories can catalyze change.EricHere’s my ego: < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Two World Collision<>

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