Lately I have been noticing how destructive EGO is for any leader.
It almost always prevents a leader from ending well. It sometimes leads to the total collapse of the cause/church/ministry that person oversees. EGO and its cousin, pride, almost always bring a leader to a form of mental insanity of one sort or another.
Consider King Saul and King Solomon. Consider the “before and after” picture described in Daniel. One day Nebuchadnezzar is praising himself for all that he has accomplished in his life as king, and the next he is eating grass with cattle. It was EGO that brought these men down. And it will bring down any man or woman who lets it run unchecked in his or her life. It will produce death in any organization – no matter how healthy it may seem!
I think that men especially can be prone to huge “ego tanks.” They seek to have them filled by flattery from others (especially women), job titles, educational degrees, or the praise of colleagues. The place a person looks for affirmation is a strong indicator of who they are trying to impress most.
If I’m being totally honest, in my 70 years of life, all too often I have worked for the attention of people more than the accolades coming from God Himself. Looking back on those seasons when my EGO was running unchecked, I realize now how vulnerable I was to ruin my reputation and that of those around me. Remember the words of Jesus, “Without ME you can do nothing.”
I live near Chicago, Illinois in the USA. In some ways, Chicagoland is a hub for many Christian ministry organizations. Christian colleges, seminaries, and mega-churches are many in the area. However, in the past two years, I have read and heard about the demise of many of these ministries largely due to the moral or ethical failure of its main leader. It has been heart-breaking and especially painful for people in those schools, churches, and Christian organizations that have been crushed because of their leader’s sin. I have seen at least three men – each very well known – who have moved from top leaders to total insanity because of their enormous EGO. In each case, there seemingly weren’t other leaders in their organization who called them out on their slow slide into the sin of Edging God Out.
So … this is a warning for me, and perhaps for you too.
Regardless of how much you love your spouse, how often you pray and read your Bible, or how finely tuned your leadership skills have been honed … if you are looking for affirmation and praise from anyone else more than God, you are already on a slow slide to destruction.
You might ask, “How can I know if EGO is a problem in my own life?” Here are a few things to consider:
Ask your spouse or a true friend how they have seen ego surface in your life.
How often do you think you are being paid less than you are truly worth?
Spend an entire day practicing the spiritual discipline of silence. Not speaking any words. Of course, let those around you know what you are doing in advance. But on this day determine that you will not say a word, remaining silent like Jesus was before Pilate. If you really struggle with not using words to manipulate how others think about you on this day, it’s a true indication that your own image has come to mean too much.
Are you able to let it go when someone else in your group accomplishes something really significant while knowing that it was you who had the idea first?
Are you a “here I am” or a “there you are” person? (Read Philippians 2:3-4.)
EGO is not often considered to fall on the list of “really bad” sins.
Yet in Proverbs 6:17, a haughty spirit (ego) is first in the list of things God hates.
Whose praise … whose smile means most to you these days? God’s? … Or others?