Spiritual pride is a great danger that all of us face at all times - and especially when the Lord blesses our labours. It is very easy then to imagine that we have become "somebodies", when we are always " nobodies". Then God Himself will oppose us and fight against us - for God opposes all proud people, whoever they may be. When we are gifted, or when things have gone well in our personal life and family life, or when our church is growing, or when we get rich materially, it is very easy to be puffed up. We need to get light on our spiritual pride and selfishness, more than on any other sin. It is very easy for us to deceive ourselves in these areas. We can imagine that we are very humble and unselfish when we are actually quite proud and self-centred. Satan is a great deceiver.
Here are some evidences of spiritual pride that can enable us to see our true condition: getting offended, getting angry, sexually impure thought-patterns, unwillingness to acknowledge error, delaying in apologizing, delaying in restoring fellowship with our fellow-believers in the church, etc.
A proud leader will behave like a dictator in his church and will run it like a CEO runs his company. Such a man will never be able to build the church as a Body.
Spiritual pride is like body-odour and mouth-odour. We cannot smell it ourselves but others can smell it. For example, when an elder boasts about his ministry, he does not realize the stinking spiritual pride emanating from him. But a godly person will sense the spiritual pride in him immediately.
A proud attitude in a leader will make his church a Babylonian church, as we saw in the attitude that Nebuchadnezzar had (Dan. 4:30), God humbled him and rejected him immediately.
Spiritual pride will also produce a lack of respect for older brothers and for those whom God Himself has borne witness to. Such a leader will expect others in his church to submit to him, but he will be unwilling himself to submit to any spiritual authority that God has placed over him. This lack of respect will be increasingly prevalent among Christians in the last days. We see it all around us nowadays in many children and young people - in the way they speak to older, godly brothers.
The examples of Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) and of the five backslidden elders of the churches that John wrote to (Rev.2 and 3 ) are a warning to all of us. As we considered earlier, if those leaders had judged themselves, God would have shown them their failures directly, Himself. He would not then have had to point out their failures through the apostle John.
When we stop judging ourselves, we will start preaching, as though we are experts. And the Lord will not stand by us. So, we must judge ourselves every day and live in small thoughts about ourselves and our ministry at all times. We must constantly check ourselves to see if God is bearing witness to our life and our labours (Gal.6:4). If not, then something is seriously wrong.
Here is a threefold exhortation I would give to all the leaders:
1. Always be a worshipper of God, with your face in the dust.
2. Always remember that you are just an ordinary brother.
3. Always meditate on the Lord's love for you instead of imagining that you love Him a lot.
To be "poor in spirit" is to "rate yourself as insignificant"( Matt.5:3 - Amplified Bible) and to live with a constant sense of personal, spiritual need.