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Tag Archives | PRIDE

“Humble Things” That Aren’t Humble


Humility can be a huge struggle. It is something I pray for everyday because I know that pride is a killer. In some form or another, most of us have seen the damage that can be caused by a prideful heart. The problem with pride is that it starts in the heart of one person, and through their actions, affects the hearts of many, poisoning their church.

So, yes. Humility is big. But I don’t think that all of us “get” humility. Some of us strive to have the outward appearance of a humble person, but are neglecting to work on having the heart of a humble person.

If you frequent the RELEVANT Magazine site, you would have seen the article, 4 ‘Humble’ Things That Aren’t Humble. In this piece, Jayson D. Bradley (author) brings up some interesting points, calling into question some of the “Christianese” that we sometimes use to disguise our pride.

Here is a glimpse of it:

Virtues are a lot like garments; you can put them on without owning them. It’s tricky because we don’t just fool the people around us by playing dress up—we fool ourselves.

Humility is much easier to manufacture than it is to internalize, and as long as we’re more focused on humility’s appearance, we’ll never experience its transformation.

So What is Humility?

Scripture’s packed with references to humility (something God honors), and most of the time it’s used as an antonym for pride (something God despises).

The classic C. S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity is a helpful place to start:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

Humility’s simplicity is what makes it so difficult. It’s simply thinking about, promoting the interests of and celebrating others more than yourself.

Instead of focusing on others, we tend to promote, celebrate and focus on ourselves with a little self-depreciating twist to give the appearance that we really don’t take ourselves that seriously.

Like every other opinion based article, there are some things that I would push back on, but I do think that he brings up some interesting points and has started a really necessary discussion on faux-humility.

Spend some time today thinking about areas that you see pride appear. Pray for a humble heart and seek accountability.

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5 Questions to Ask Before Posting to Social Media


I came across this awesome article that was posted on Relevant. It can be super easy to make a weird choice about what we end up posting on social media and the result can really bite us on the butt! This article covers multiple dangers of posting. Here is my favorite point from the article:

4. Is this a moment to protect?

When my son crawls into my lap, he doesn’t want me to take his picture and shoot it across Facebook. He doesn’t care who else thinks I have a cute kid. He just wants me to hold him and see him. To feel his soft, chunky arms and to focus on the way his eyelashes move when he blinks.

When we interrupt lunch with a friend in order to quote her on Twitter, we invite hundreds of people into a conversation that could have been sacred; and we miss the sweet memories that may have formed had her words remained simply between the two of us.

Not every great moment needs to be shared. In fact, some of the best times are most enjoyed privately. If we suspend the present in an attempt to capture its beauty in 140 characters or less, we sacrifice our experience of the moment itself. We also rob each other of something that has been lost in our digital age—keeping a handful of memories between us and those we are closest to, or even just between us and God.

Especially with Instagram, I don’t think we do a great job at protecting moments. Posting during those special moments in our youth ministry keeps us from being fully present, but sometimes we feel this odd need to–but why? I think we often say, “I want to share what God is doing in our ministry,” but we really need to be examining our hearts with that. We need to make sure we aren’t posting things to say, “Look how great my ministry is,” “Look what I did,” or “Look at how much students love me.”

In the pursuit of protecting moments, we find that we really need to be protecting our hearts. There is probably a follow up blog coming up about this soon.

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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Youth Ministry and Humility

Humility always wins.

You can try to build a youth group on charisma, momentum and sheer force of personality … and quite honestly, it will work for a while. You can build programs, events, services and but sooner or later it will implode. Humility builds other people rather than building our personal following. Pride builds a youth ministry around you at the expense of building it around Christ. Pride stunts growth. Pride is empty. Pride is lonely. Pride sucks us in then spits us out.

Let’s start out 2014 with a commitment to humility this year!


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Stop Sweating The Numbers

Since the beginning of time, or at least when youth pastors came onto the scene, there has been lead pastors, elders board members, and lets face it, ourselves, sweating the attendance at youth group. Growth is celebrated, decline is lamented and steady attendance is questioned. Numbers are a funny thing and one of the only quantifiable metrics we have.

Before I came to work as a Pastor I had a great job managing an Auto Collision repair facility. Every night at 8pm I would get a report emailed to me with the day’s numbers. Every aspect of the business was dissected and summarized to show where my opportunities were and where I needed to improve to reach the goals set for my location. For years I felt the anxiousness of opening the report each day, seeing where I needed to do better and constantly feeling like what I was doing wasn’t good enough.

I was two years in before I had an epiphany and changed my approach to managing my staff and store. I decided I wasn’t going to look at the numbers anymore, each night the email would show up and I would delete it as fast as it came in. I decided that I had been doing it all backwards and switched my approach. Instead of focussing on the numbers, I focussed on people. I told my team that I would only let them know how we did at the end of the month and our focus was strictly on people and nothing else.

I switched my focus to making sure that everyone who came in the door was taken care of, followed up with, and had all their needs known and subsequently met. I knew their concerns, learned about their families and jobs and took an interest in them as a person more than a customer. I focussed on all the parts I could control and it was a game changer and within months we were setting records for same store sales month after month.

This is a principle that I have applied to how we do ministry and here is 4 ways to stop sweating the numbers:

1 – Focus on the ones you have: At the shop, we made it a priority to take the best care possible of every person that walked through the door. The same is true at youth, our goal is to take care of each and every student, know their name, know their story and know why they showed up. Instead of doing a head count, we commit to pastoring everyone who walks in the door.

2 – Don’t sweat the ones that don’t show: I am sure we have all be here, looking around the room and wondering where some of the students are and running all kinds of scenarios as to where they might be. When we do this, we cause ourselves undue stress and anxiety and more than anything miss the opportunity to engage the students that did show up. Don’t allow the ones that didn’t attend to lessen the experience of those that do.

3 – Control the things you can: There are many pieces of the youth night that we have some control over like ambiance, games and organization to name a few. There are things that you can do, and things you can’t; we need to do everything within our power to make the youth night the best possible. God is going to do what He is going to do, students are going to perceive what they will and the Holy Spirit is going to teach and convict. Our job is to help facilitate and create spaces where students can encounter God and be challenged to think about what they believe.

4 – Don’t play the numbers game: I may not be popular for saying this, but do your students, leaders and fellow youth pastors a favour and please don’t tweet your attendance. Firstly because it is not a true indicator of health; it is an indicator that students showed up. Secondly I am not sure it’s great for the Kingdom. Seeing record attendance is exciting, but I rarely hear about record low attendance, or “50% of my students went to a football game instead of coming to youth tonight”. We brag about the highs; but rarely in context, and almost none of us boast of poor attendance. I am convinced that publicly announcing attendance does more harm than good for other youth workers and does more to discourage than build up. Students are less concerned about record attendance, than showing up and having their name known and having an adult leaders who care for them and pray for them.

-Did you have a great night at youth? Tweet about it! 

-Did students give their lives to Christ? Tweet about it! 

-Did you have record attendance? Keep that one to your team? 

When we live and die by attendance numbers we allow something other than the Love of God to determine our value.

It was remarkable to watch how the numbers seemed to take care of themselves when we stopped focussing on them and just took care of people. In the context of our youth ministry, we have seen the health of the ministry and spiritual growth increase when we stopped living and dying by how many people we could get through the doors each week. Instead we focussed on the spiritual health of our student because things that are healthy grow.

Do yourself and your stress level a favour and stop sweating the numbers.

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Harmful Habits For Your Ministry

I love everything about Christmas, especially the cookies.  Shortbread, gingerbread, fillings and frostings, I love them all.  As much as I enjoy that part of the holiday season, I know consuming too many can be harmful to my health.  That’s why I limit myself, even though I would love to consume a dozen a day.

While there are dozens of healthy habits to embrace, there are just as many harmful ones to avoid.  They sometimes sneak up on you or constantly tempt you.  Either way a harmful habit can expose your weaknesses and drive you towards failure.  The first step to tackling a negative habit is by being aware of them.  And you’ll know you are practicing an unhealthy habit when you:

  • Own Everything: It’s a huge burden to create and do everything yourself.  If you never listen to other ideas you will only limit your ministry.  Take baby steps to correct this harmful habit.  Ask a volunteer to plan an activity.  Build trust and then give them a little more responsibility.  If they mess up it’s okay, everyone is human. Give them a second chance.
  • Take Others For Granted: Just because an adult comes to serve once doesn’t mean they are confidently all in.  As a leader you need to make sure that you are constantly investing in leaders by growing with them relationally.  If you have a large volunteer corp, invest in people who can invest in others for your.  Build teams, build structure and avoid the assumption that others can endure the journey like you can.
  • Stay With What You Know: The crowd is getting bigger and there is a buzz in the air about your ministry.  It’s easy to assume that once you see success that you’ve arrived.  But, because youth ministry is a movement it requires constant growth.  As a leader you need to make sure you are learning from others and listening to new ideas.  Make sure you attend conferences, read books and meet with like minded youth workers who will challenge you in your ministry.
  • Stop Consulting God: It’s easy to believe that you are growing spiritually when you are constantly looking in a Bible and entering a church week in and out.  The problem is that your work in a church does not always lead to personal spiritual growth.  Be sure to surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable to your personal relationship with God.  Never take Him for granted.
  • Let Everyone Know Who’s In Charge: One of the most harmful habits a leader will face is pride.  If you have to constantly let teenagers, parents or volunteer’s know who is in charge, you’ve lost their respect.  To gain influence you need to learn how to be a servant leader.  That means showing others that nothing is beneath you; however, also setting limits to what it is you do.

Harmful habits will eat away at your ministry.  While it’s important to embrace the positive it’s also important to avoid the negative habits that will take you down as a leader.  Never stop growing as an individual, embrace humility and always look to God for guidance.

What other harmful habits should be avoided?

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First 2 Years: Being Completely Right and Totally Wrong

I work on a VERY opinionated team. Now, that can be a totally awesome thing or the absolute worst. We like to operate under the “best idea wins” principal. Ideally, this should cut down on some of the arguing and provide really productive meetings. However, this can lead to pretty lengthy and “passionate” speeches about why their ideas are the best. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from these meetings is that you can be totally right, but if you communicate your idea in a poor or hostile way, you will always be completely wrong. Here are a few tips that will (hopefully) allow you to avoid that mistake in a meeting:

Check your pride at the door. This isn’t the time for you to win. This isn’t the time for you to prove that you are top dog. This is the time for your team to make the best choices to minister to the students in your ministry. Check your motives and maybe even pray for your heart before you enter into a meeting. Pride is one of the biggest things that can prevent you from clearly communicating your ideas.

Don’t take it personally. If someone doesn’t agree with your idea, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you or they think you’re dumb. Well, sometimes that might be the case, but only on an unhealthy team (which is a whole other blog post). Sometimes your idea is just a bad idea. That’s fine, everyone will end up pitching a bad idea. Don’t get emotional. Be a team player and push through. In the nicest way possible—don’t be a baby.

Shoot down ideas, not people. It is so dang important to watch your tone. Brainstorming meetings only work when people feel like it is a safe environment. Make sure the way you challenge someone’s idea promotes that. If you make someone feel dumb, there is no way that they are going to want to keep participating in the discussion.

What are some tips you would you give on the topic?

Colton [Email||Twitter]

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7 Steps for Do-It-Yourself Surgery

I’ve never written a blog post from inside the confines of a doctor’s office, but unfortunately I’m stuck here all day. I’m having Mohs Surgery to remove more skin cancer.

As a child of the 70’s in Southern California I was painfully naive to the potential skin damage that was waiting in my future. Honestly, all I remember about sun protection was the Coppertone ads (and the girl’s bikini bottom being pulled down by a dog). Sunburns sucked, but being tan was a high value as a teenager, so Coppertone simply blocked my bronze potential. Instead of sunscreen, I opted for baby-oil (and Hawaiian Tropic).

Needles to say, 30 years later I have a very intimate and frequent relationship with my dermatologist. He’s a great guy, but standing before him in my underwear every 3 months while he scans every inch of my body, and then reports his findings to a nearby female scribe isn’t my idea of a party. But, it’s my reality.

Today, the cancer is being cut out. Then it will be evaluated. Then, if any signs of cancer are still remaining in the margins of the cut tissue, a larger cut is made. This procedure will continue today until the margins are clean and the cancer is gone.

In this quiet office I’ve been reflecting on the steps taken to eradicate the cancer and how they’re actually similar steps toward removing the cancer residing within one’s inner world.

Here’s what I’m thinking: what if those of us who follow Jesus charted a similar course that I take to rid myself of skin cancer?

Consider the similarities…here’s what I’ve done to treat the skin cancer:

1. I realized the need to be evaluated.

2. I went to someone who could help.

3. The “problem” areas were thoroughly investigated and recorded.

4. Surgical plans were made to eradicate the problem.

5. Surgery will be performed.

6. A close inspection follows to ensure the problem is eliminated.

7. A regular follow up is schedule to safeguard against the problem returning.

I realize that dealing with the dark issues that loom in the soul are much more difficult to identify than a mole or freckle changing its shape. But I also know that the insidious inner cancer within the heart of today’s leader is easy to hide.

Another year just passed and it was filled with stories and headlines of Christ-following leaders who didn’t tend to their inner world and their leadership died. At this time last year, they appeared “healthy” (at least from a distance) but their “inner cancer” wounded their ministries.

Pride. Untamed Anger. Lust. Selfish Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. Deep Insecurity. Revenge. Wounded Relationships. Lack of Forgiveness. Mean Spirit. Inappropriate Relationships.

What else?

What’s the sickness that you’ve been hiding that could destroy your leadership and/or ministry? Don’t tell me. Instead, find someone who can help you prepare for the needed surgery. Invite others to the table of honesty and deal with it before it deals out its own form of pain.

Please don’t allow another year to slip by without taking steps toward healing. None of us are immune.

Thoughts? Comments?


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GUEST POST: It’s Easy to Destroy Relationships—try this!

In the middle of the valley of Guadalupe just north of Ensenada Mexico is the church of Tierra Santa. We have been going to this location for many years to stand alongside of Alejandro and his congregation. Upon arriving, high school students tumbled out of the large dusty white vans and began to unload the trailer of supplies and what seemed like thousands of sleeping bags.

Soon it was time for the evening message and worship. My husband asked if I could walk down to the house and retrieve a bag that had been left in the trailer. He warned me that opening and closing the trailer was difficult and maybe I should have someone come with me to help. I proudly exclaimed, “I got it!”

He handed me the keys and a flashlight and I went alone. I was grateful for a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the students and briskly set off down the dirt road. Behind the Pastor’s house in the dark was the large white equipment trailer.

Reaching up on my tiptoes, I unlocked the large metal door at the back of the trailer. As I pulled the door down it became a ramp. “That was remarkably easy,” I proudly thought to myself! Shining the flashlight into the back of the trailer, I quickly found the bag and walked out.

This is when the fun began! The door that had so easily opened was now a formidable opponent! It felt as though a thousand pounds was pushing against me! I tried all sorts of creative ways to get that door closed. First, I tried pushing it up halfway and then quickly getting my back under it, but I didn’t have enough strength to close it. After that I climbed up on the bumper and slowly pulled the heavy metal door up, but that ended with me falling off the trailer and landing in the dirt.

While lying in the dirt, pondering what I might do, it occurred to me that I had only two options:

(1) I could leave the trailer open with the contents vulnerable to theft and walk back to tell my husband that I was unable to complete my task, or
(2) I could figure out another way to close it.

Clearly failure was not an option after my bold declaration of “I got it!” At that moment a new thought arose, “use a rope to pull it closed.” Somehow those science classes came rushing back to me and I remembered how to construct a pulley system. MacGyver has nothing on me!

I strutted to the church, bag in hand, ready to proudly deliver it to my husband. As my moment to gloat became closer I was convicted and realized that my husband had simply been looking out for me and it was my pride that blinded me. Getting the bag would have been less of an ordeal if only I would have just heeded his advice to take help.

Scripture warns us over and over again about pride.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Here are my lessons:

1. We have a hard time loving when we focus on ourselves. If I would have seen my husband’s desire to take care of me, instead of thinking that he saw me as weak, the trailer wouldn’t have been so difficult.

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground? Obadiah 1:3

2. We have a hard time loving when we think that we are all sufficient. God has created us to need others. My desire to do it by myself clearly missed the mark.

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:3-4

3. We have a hard time loving when we leave God out of the picture. I don’t recall asking God for help during this entire process. Yes, I pretty much tried to do it by myself.

Marriage is difficult enough, don’t let pride be a relationship killer.

• When you are tempted to focus on yourself, remember that pride is a relationship killer.
• When you think that you don’t need anyone’s help, remember that pride is a relationship killer.
• When you think that you can do it without God, remember that pride is a relationship killer.

Question: How does pride affect your relationship with your spouse?

Jan Cobb has been married 28 years and 22 of those years have been shared in Student Ministry! She has two daughters and is the co-teaching leader for The Journey Bible study. Her blog can be found at http://thereflectionofhim.blogspot.com/

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WHEN LEADERS FALL: What are the missed signs?

I’m tired of hearing about ministry leaders wrecking their lives (and those around them). It happens too often and after it’s over there are so many who say, “I should have seen it coming.” Sure! But, the truth is, the person who crashed should have seen it coming too.

What do you think are some of the obvious “warning signs” that leaders need to learn to recognize prior to becoming another crash/statistic?

I’ll prime the pump with a few of my ideas and invite you to chime in and add your thoughts. Your input might actually help save a life/ministry/family. Here are three warning signs that I see:

  • Chronic busyness
  • Superficial friendships and/or isolation from “truth tellers”
  • A unusual display of pride

What are the warning signs you look for? Or, what warning signs did you “miss” when a friend and/or co-worker crashed?

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Inspired by Habakkuk 2:4

See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright

but the righteous will live by his faith

I love this scripture, it has so many great reminders for me!

I love the connection between FAITH and DESIRE. Faith can become a powerless word: encompassing everything which ends up in meaning nothing practical. Desire is a practical word. You can’t get around it. Every day is filled with hundreds of desires that can be immediately identified with a moment of reflection. One of THE MOST TANGIBLE expressions of our faith is in our desires. Desire is the language of faith and a person’s life is defined by their desires. You show me a person’s desires, and I’ll show you what they believe in and what they are living for.

I love the connection between DESIRE and PRIDE. When we want the wrong things, we get puffed up. That’s the only result and it happens every time. How? Left to our natural instinct and intuition, we want things that are easily within our reach. Things that can be accomplished by our own power. IT’S a cycle that is SIMPLE BUT SICK to the core: we want what we can get, we get it, our sense of self-sufficiency puffs up. REPEAT UNTIL SELF DESTRUCTION.

I love the contrast between PUFFED UP and UP RIGHT. It’s possible to be righteous, to be in right standing before God. Puffed up is wrong, but so is cowering in the corner, surrounded by a cocoon of fear. We can stand before God, upright, in the confidence that is based on the redemptive work of Christ. (in the time of Habakkuk, the same thing was true, but it was faith in the Father’s promises and redemptive work). This is faith, the way it ought to be.

I want to ABNORMALIZE my desires, standing up before the King, and not puffed up by my petty wants.


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