The Measure of a Man- Spurgeon on Proper Perspective in Ministry

October 17, 2008

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” -Proverbs 11.2

One of my biggest problems, a concern I am reminded of most every time I present a Bible study lesson or special message before a crowd, is an unholy preoccupation with the responses of men. My own pride and desire to see myself elevated has many times gotten in the way of my ability to advance the cause of Christ in my circumstances, and it seems that, as someone who has recently received the call into pastoral ministry, this is an issue I will have need to focus on for the remainder of my ministry on earth.

Of course, this problem goes beyond just a desire for people to like me, extending out into areas such as innovation and uniqueness of my work. It is here that the words of God to an Elijah who thought much too highly of his own importance should be heard:

And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19.13-18)

Another quote which I find helpful here is the following from Charles Spurgeon in his book An All-Round Ministry:

Let us not judge ourselves by others, and say, with deadening self-complacency, “We are getting on well as compared with our brethren. There are not many additions to our churches, but we are as successful as others.” . . . Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible, but hopefulness will be natural.

Elijah held himself in too high an esteem, Spurgeon warns against measuring by inappropriate markers, and the onus falls on me to take these thoughts to heart. Pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 11.2). This is certainly a lesson that I must learn if I am going to be able to execute a God-honoring ministry with my life. Maybe this will find you too.