“What things does the awe of God produce in the heart of a pastor that are vital for an effective, God-honoring, and productive ministry?”
When was the last time you saw something or experienced something that truly amazed you or actually took your breath away? Perhaps it was standing on a beach and seeing the curvature of the earth. Or maybe it was witnessing the Northern Lights in person. Maybe you are drawn to art and stood before a masterpiece that created amazement in you. Or you might be more compelled by the left side of the brain where your mind ponders the utter complexity of the universe, which may cause the proverbial jaw to drop. To be awed is quite special and often provides a renewal of our perspective in ways that can protect us from arrogance, boredom, or both.
Paul Tripp writes in Dangerous Calling that pastors can often lose sight of the magnificence of God because of familiarity and boredom. This is possible when one has lost a sense of awe with the utter magnificence of God. He says, “The spiritual danger here is that when awe of God is absent, it is quickly replaced by our awe of ourselves.” Tripp shares several qualities that help one regain an awe of God.
First on the list is humility. Arrogance can take many forms. On the more familiar side we think of arrogance as an undesirable quality where a person believes they are above others. They have an unfounded and inflated view of themselves. Those types of people are very challenging to be around because they are not teachable and are typically dismissive of constructive criticism. This person can be dismissive and cynical. It’s possible they have experienced great success, which is part of their problem. But it doesn’t require success to cause one to be arrogant. It is mostly a loss of perspective and they have forgotten about humility.
The other lesser known arrogant person can be a self-deprecating person. They may be described as having an “Eyore” personality and tend to see the glass as half empty. Henry Cloud describes a perspective that can be true of this person. They have a “one down” tendency. In other words, everyone else is seen as more significant or important. They can display a low view of themselves.
Both of these people could be described as arrogant. Why? They are arrogant because each person is preoccupied with himself or herself: one to an inflated level and the other to a dismissive level. Both seem disconnect to what Scripture says about our position in Christ and each person is placing too much importance upon their situation and not on the unchanging God we serve. Both profiles are dangerous for a pastor or Christian leader to fall into.
Humility can preserve the pastor. Humility will protect the pastor, his family and the congregation. Arrogance will create a blind spot that most always leads toward disaster for everyone. But humility will restore the awe of God in a pastor.
As one recognizes his own limitations and concurrently observes the infinitude of the God he loves, this person can appropriately maintain healthy and life giving perspective. A humble pastor can stand by the Grand Canyon and realize his smallness but at the same time have a deep appreciation for the immensity of God. The pastor who is in awe of God helps his congregation remain in awe of God. Tripp says, “…it is only in light of the awesome glory and holiness of God that you come to a have an accurate view of yourself and the depth of your need for the rescue that only a God of glorious grace can provide.” (p. 121).
Humility is one vital quality that will help produce in the heart of the pastor the awe of God. We’ll discuss others in the next blog on this series. For now, consider how humility has been absent in your view of God. Pray that the Lord will help you see this.