The White Knight

“The opposite of pride is not humility as being humble often contains a measure of pride. The opposite of pride is actually gratitude”!   Mary New

Mary shared this to a group of friends recently.  I think there is a lot of truth in this statement.  We often think being humble or meek is admirable, yet there is often a thread of pride that is woven in to our humility.  Pride is incredibly insidious.  It is often completely unrecognizable to us.  We think we are acting under the motivation of doing a good thing- but is the good thing REALLY our motivation?

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The servant heart is especially prone to this.  You may feel like the “white knight” coming in for the rescue when you serve others- however…. 

Do you ever consider what would happen if you did nothing?  Would they really perish?  Maybe it would actually do them some good to remain in a state of want.   

Do you they really need what you have to offer or are you simply enabling and feeding your ego?

Here are a couple of checks to see if the white knight drug is mixed in:

Measure the Sacrifice:  Are you putting aside things that are truly important to you in order to serve?  Are you neglecting your spouse, you family or friends to accomplish this “good thing”?  Be objective about this.  You may need to get advice from a friend on this as you may not be able to see it.  Your family, spouse, and close friends should come first, right?  If you are choosing to serve in front of these, you are likely receiving a good strong dose.

The End Game:  Where are you going with this?  What is your ultimate goal?  Before you make the investment (even properly measured as discussed above), you need to consider what the final outcome looks like.  This may seem elementary, yet the servant heart will look past this important step and charge into situations and really muck it up.  Why would you do this?  Again, you are likely taking another hit from the pride pipe.

Check for Fanfare:  Are you flying under the radar or are you acting in a very noticeable way.  If you truly want to serve you will do it without notice.  The best gift is an anonymous gift.  If you need your name on it, you are likely looking to get something back.  Another puff on the pipe.

Is Good Enough:  If you are taking things to the extreme, then it’s likely that you are doing it for yourself.  Do what you can with what you have and move on.  Yes, we should do things with excellence, yet, there is a limit to this.  If it has to be picture perfect you are probably looking for another fix.

It’s My Religion:  Playing the God card can really cloud your thinking.  Often a good work in a religious setting can be a great disguise for a personal motivation based on pride.  History is full of crazy acts that did little to honor God.  So who do you think got the glory?   

Check Out:  Are you able to leave project?  There is always a time to end it.  Are you able to do it?  It’s OK to fail or move on.  It’s very rare that leaving will cause catastrophic damage.  We can actually fool ourselves into thinking that they will die and be helpless without us.  Crazy isn’t it?  This is almost always not the case.  They will find others to help them.  You are not the only person in the entire world.  If you are convinced that only you can do it, it’s likely another surge in the veins.

I am not absent of these tendencies.  I am a perfectionist and I have a servant’s heart so this is as much a manifesto to me.  However, I am learning to recognize when pride begins to appear.  Pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing- in measure.  We should be proud of our accomplishments.  The key is recognition and staying objective. 

What is my actual motivating factor? 

Why am I doing this? 

These are important questions to ask you.  Don’t get frozen in analysis but go into situations with your eyes wide open.  Like you tell your kids- Just say no to the white knight!

What do you think?  Am I off base on this?  Am I just being heartless?  Click on comments and tell me what you think!   

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Empty Cathedrals

I have been watching a mega church construction project while commuting to and from work.  This is a really impressive project- super big building and giant size parking lot.  It really looks like a high school campus more than a church project.  I have heard that it cost 10 million dollars, which I think would be a great price for the facility based on the scale of the project.

Worship Service- Western Zambia 2009

Observing this project has led me to reflect on church construction and the costs associated with building a campus that is bigger and better than the church down the road.  Is bigger really better?  Is it really a wise use of resources to purchase and own a church building?

The purpose of the church building is ministry.  There is no use in the residual value of the investment to build a church.  When the church reaches the end of its effectiveness, they are generally sold at a giant discount and are used for other purposes.  I remember seeing a church in a city that was converted to a nightclub!  I recently saw a church in a magazine that was converted to a residence.  I have heard of isolated instances of reuse through purchasing by another church, however, this seems to be very limited.

There is some amazing architecture in church buildings.  The cathedrals of Europe are examples of this.  If the purpose is to provide really amazing architectural wonders- then go ahead and build them big.  However the cathedrals of Europe are largely empty on Sunday.  Ministry is not happening there.  Just tours to view the amazing buildings and huge costs for maintenance and restoration.

So- why can’t the church rent?  There is typically plenty of existing retail or office buildings that could be rented and remodeled to accomplish the needs of a church.  You may not have the impressive expansive sanctuaries and rows of classrooms but an old retail store or office building can be a practical and efficient alternative.  So, comfort or ministry? 

The costs to build and maintain a church campus is huge.   These costs limit the flexibility of how the church can use its resources.  The more efficient that you are in your facilities costs, the more available funds that you will have to minister to the needs of the community.  The costs to build and own a church often strangles a church budget and severely limits ministry resources.    

The Israelites lived in tents and they were able to move when the Lord moved.  Most churches go through cycles of growth and effectiveness, and yet they are tied to a fixed facility and location.  If a church is renting and struggling to be effective in their particular community and they feel that the Lord has opened the doors to move- they can move.  They are not tied to a permanent location.  When you leave, the building can be easily converted to another use and will not become another empty cathedral.

So I say- it is right for the church to rent!  I also believe that the Lord will provide a building Owner that will bless the church with a favorable rental terms.  Concentrate the resources of the church to reach the lost and minister to the poor. 

The temple is the old covenant.  The veil has been torn.  You have been commanded to go.  Let’s pour our resources into advancing His kingdom for His glory!

 “Every year in the United States, we spend more than $10 billion on church buildings.  In America alone, the amount of real estate owned by institutional churches is worth over $230 billion.  We have money and possessions, and we are building temples everywhere.  Empires, really.  Kingdoms.  We call them houses of worship.  But at the core, aren’t they too often outdated models of religion that wrongfully define worship according to a place and wastefully consume our time and money when God has called us to be a people who spend our lives for the sake of His glory among the needy outside the gates?”  Radical by David Platt.  

Do you agree or do you think that I am full of you know what?  Let me know by clicking on comment below!