categories: I'm curious, accountability, church, culture, leadership
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January 19th, 2012

by Craig Groeschel

55 comments (+ Add)

ACCEPTABLE PRIDE?

We know God opposes the proud. But some forms of social media seem to have redefined what pride is and what it’s not.

For example: Imagine if I stood before our church and told everyone, “Joe Smith said, ‘Craig you are the best preacher ever! Your sermons changed my life.’ And Jill Denny said, ‘I loved your book. Everyone should read it. You are the best author I’ve ever read!’ Not only that, but Mike Mitchell said, ‘Craig, Life Church is the best church in the world! No church is as good as Life Church.’”

Chances are good most people would look at me funny and think I’m a little full of myself for saying such things.

But if I simply retweeted those exact same statements, my retweets would seem totally acceptable to most. Honestly, I’m wondering if that is acceptable to God, or if it’s just pride in disguise.

I believe we need to walk a very careful line in ministry (I am certain I have crossed this line at times). Sure we want to celebrate what God is doing in our churches. Of course we want to get the word out about a new series or a book we’ve written. Unquestionably we want to share more reasons to give praise to our God.

But at the same time, we need to be careful that we’re not drawing attention to ourselves.

Your thoughts?

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Comments

there are a total of55
  1. Jan 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Hard line …where we promote the message of Christ and not ourselves. We need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves!

  2. Jan 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Craig, good thought man. Pride is the silent killer among the clergy. Out of all my shortcomings it is the thing that I notice pops up frequently in me and that I hate the most. Our only hope is the Gospel and believing we are sufficient in Christ so that the praise of man becomes hollow over time…

  3. Jan 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

    The illustration you used is spot on. A lot of times we don’t understand that social media is simply an extension of the way we would communicate in public. If we could just make that connection, we’d pay a little more attention to what we say and how we say it. Thanks for starting this conversation.

  4. Jan 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Great thoughts, Craig. I’ve wondered about that in the past. I think it’s a very fine line to walk. Before I send out a tweet I try to ask myself, “Why am I sending this tweet? What is the purpose behind it? Will it build others up? Or am I just trying to build myself up?”

  5. 5Debbie Sneddon
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Agreed. It is so easy to forget and I don’t want to ever take credit for what God has done, I want Him to have ALL the glory.

  6. 6Kyle
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I agree entirely. I think that pride is a major issue for a lot of pastors and church-goers today. We claim to be spreading the gospel but promote ourselves or our churches far too much. Pride is a difficult problem to fix, especially when you don’t even realize you struggle with it. It is very good to be aware of this.

  7. 7Kelly Mata
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    You hit the nail on the head - celebrate what Jesus has done or is doing. It’s all about motives.

  8. 8Joey Schwartz
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    In my opinion, there is absolutely no way that attention can’t be drawn to as you are a well-known pastor. But because you are walking in humility and you have a heart of giving glory to God, when attention is drawn to you, it is actually being drawn to God and HE is being glorified.

  9. 9James
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Interesting. I was just thinking about this the other day when a pastor I know boasts on #FB that their church is the best in the area.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. It seems to me we’ve created a church culture that prides itself on being cool & cutting edge which leads (intentionally or unintentionally)to trying to one up the guy down the road!

    It’s an interesting topic and I’ll be curious to hear other input.

  10. Jan 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

    It is a very hard line. When we realize God is using us to make a huge impact in our world around us, it gets hard to not feel a little proud. Are they praising me and my abilities, or are they praising God’s use of the abilities He’s given me in spite of my inabilities? Very tough decision. Food for thought, it’ll be good to chew on for a while.

  11. Jan 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

    This tension makes sense, a lot of sense. Retweeting stuff could be something questionable yea. Really a thin line. To me, I guess sticking to what the Bible calls ABOVE REPROACH is a better approach.

    Thanks for this Ptr. Craig!

  12. Jan 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

    This is very true. I find that when writing my blog posts. I try to ensure I take no credit for my findings, as its all opinion, interpretation, or simply scripture. This is harder when people send in messeges, suggesting my blog is great. I think we need to pray for wisdom, in realising when these situations are occuring, and then pray into each situation.

    For the record Craig, Awesome blog :) Just don’t let it go to your head :)

  13. 13Jimmy Holbrook
    Jan 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Craig this is very well said and spot on. It’s always better to let someone else sing your praises. I read a tweet a couple of weeks ago that I really liked and it spoke to me. Can’t remember it verbatim but I do remember that it said succeed quietly. It’s a powerful thought in light of social media!

  14. Jan 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    There is a big gray line between self-promotion and pride. To promote your product, you have to tell others about the great reviews you are getting. But, too much of that can go to your head. Best advice, get a third party with nothing at stake to keep you grounded.

  15. Jan 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I agree. Buzz and fruit are not the same thing.

  16. 16Heather Mckenzie
    Jan 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Humility and meekness must never be forgotten. After all it is His faithfulness and His strength working in us.

  17. 17Duane Adams
    Jan 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Being aware of the dangers and pitfalls associated with pride is where we need to start. With that in mind we can guard our hearts and actions. We can also be intentional about redirecting any praise or fame that comes our way back to the Source, Christ in us.

  18. 18Jeff Kaldahl
    Jan 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I completely agree. I’ve stopped paying attention to certain Church leaders because they continually RT someone saying how awesome THEY are, or their church is…and there is no reference or credit to God. Makes me question whether that person is in it for the fame of themselves or for the One who is the only one worth of being Famous.

  19. Jan 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    True that pride is a very real issue. But I also believe that false humility is a real issue for many Christians. It prevents them from being all that God wants them to be. I think humility can look different from what we sometimes think. After all, Jesus said, “Come to me…” He drew attention to himself, but only for the sake of others. For more check out my most recent blog post. Thanks for addressing this!

  20. 20Scott mccaig
    Jan 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    What is the goal? Large church, full house, lots of people hearing the gospel or to glorify God with all of our actions? Just like public prayer or public professions of faith; what is the motivation? Only God can determine that.

  21. 21Drew
    Jan 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    nothing wrong with being proud with what God has blessed you with. as long as the Glory goes to HIM.
    Great post pastor.

  22. Jan 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Great question and I think it has a much larger application beyond the church and clergy although it is of course under more of a microscope a la “there’s another one of those fake/hypocritical Christians”. Really I think for any leader rather than the re-tweet which is akin to repeating the compliment to a crowd with a bullhorn, better to do a reply and refocus the attention.

    “@JoeSmith Thanks for the compliment and I’m glad that you’ve been inspired, but I’m just the messenger…” or “@JillDenny, I’m blessed for the opportunity to reach so many people through my book and glad that you’re one of them.” or “@MikeMitchell I love Life Church too! Its people like you who make it what it is.”

  23. 23Karl Weber
    Jan 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Personally what I have noticed is there is a very lazy way of communicating running rampant (possibly due in part by Twitter). A general lack of defined perspective leaving a large part of the “audience” having to interpret what the speaker is saying. More often than not the audience can become agreeable with the speaker due to their own thoughts interpolating with the view of the speaker. In a way the audience is not really agreeing with what the speaker is saying but with what they themselves are thinking was the meaning. The reason I bring this up is due to the common miss-speaking of pride. For instance, saying the sentence “Jill was proud of her husband’s love for the word of God.” This sentence sounds a bit duplicitous in the sense that God is not that pleased with pride. However, a majority of people would hear that and think Jill is honored to have a husband that has a good relationship with his God. This is slightly different in that pride is not displayed and honor is passed onto whom it should be, in God not in man. So, the fine line here is one very similar to that of relationships, grace is offered in how we as people make miss-steps not only in our walk but in our way of talking too.

  24. 24Kelly
    Jan 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    i’d rather let the wisest king (whose wisdom was given by the ULTIMATE wisest king) answer!

    Proverbs 16:18 - 3:11 12 - 27:2

    (although i also like Chris Wisemans responses!)

    all glory to Him for all things! x

  25. Jan 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Great insight. I agree, it is very easy for us to fall into the trap of self gratification. I am told I am awesome all the time, so i fight with this…lol.

  26. Jan 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for a wise word. I’ve been “in the game” for a while and it is nothing new. I’m recalling late 80’s / early 90’s in the world of Southern Baptist Convention a wave of “how many can our church baptize and lets be sure we brag about it every chance we get.” Problem was, it often seemed to be about bringing glory to the preacher and not to God. See this happening again.

    The other night, while watching a “citrusy based” revival with my son, I heard a pastor boasting about how he and his church had been fasting. Didn’t Jesus have a word to say about this very thing? Sad.

  27. Jan 19, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I was reminded of an interesting CNN article last year re: social media and how we sometimes find ourselves as “pundits” or “stars” in our own little prideful worlds.

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-18/opinion/obeidallah.laziest.generation_1_social-media-greatest-generation-facebook-walls?_s=PM:OPINION

    Good stuff CG!

    –DW

  28. 28Susanelizabeth
    Jan 19, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I am so new to Twitter that I hadn’t noticed this happening until you mentioned it in this blog. I am reading a book now that is lifechanging. After reading your blog I realized the author of the book(whom I deeply respect) has been reposting comments made about her book from other people’s blogs. However, I was glad because it led me to some wonderful bloggers who love Jesus and are ministering to others. Thanks for bringing this up as it will give me lots to think and pray about.

  29. Jan 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

    I think externally we all have to redirect others to point to what God is doing in us and through us. This way others are focused on being proud of God. The trick internally is to keep saying to ourselves inside “God you and I know it’s all you!” if we do this the only thing we will want to hear from God is “well done my God and faithful servant” and the stuff other people say will be emptied of its power and temptation

  30. 30Fred Stone
    Jan 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Matthew 6 teaches about Spiritual disciplines and humility. I wonder if the same applies here…

  31. Jan 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Hey Craig,
    I agree with you. I love your muse at the end, not knowing for sure. I get quite uncomfortable with those kinds of accolades because I know where I have come from and that it has been the Holy Spirit and His ministry in my life that has produced what people are saying, not me.
    Thank you for the post.
    Blessings,
    Dave

  32. Jan 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

    This has become something I think about a lot…we started a little thing to help people, and then it grew and now we have fans and a page and media opportunities. Its a weird balance. Media opportunities mean more help for Joplin, MO. But its hard to not get carried away with yourself some days. I keep bringing it before the Lord and asking Him to help me just be me doing my thing for Him and the the good stuff that comes along is part of His blessing and favor and not based on what I have done. I also try to surround myself with good people that will give Godly counsel and not hesitate to tell me what I need to hear.

  33. Jan 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

    YAY! Swerve..Havent seen this in forever. Started new blog too for giggles

    …Ok So..I truly believe the minute I admit I HAVE arrived and say I am the “MAC Daddy whatever” or the Best at anything . I have pushed God out and I become the idol. Very easy and tempting to do. If we wade in other’s accolades too long we get spiritually pruney (sp?) and forget who brought us in this world and who can take us out . HE GIVES and HE TAKES away. We are only the vessel. When someone compliments me I make a choice to say I have done nothing and the man upstairs does it all. I click and he does the rest. In ALL things we must all work on giving him the glory. Love to see swerve back keep it going :)

  34. Jan 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I believe heart and soul with you, Pastor. Pride is ugly, even in the slightest form. I’ve realized as I become more one with God that the things which I never thought were prideful are now revolting to me. For example, letting people know all my accomplishments really would be prideful, since it’s my accomplishments I would be bragging about, even if I am asked about them. We need to make sure we have a pure heart that seeks God’s glory in order to maintain a true purity in bragging about what GOD has done in our lives, ministry, etc.. In truth, it is INSPITE of us that God accomplishes everything in and through us for His glory.

  35. Jan 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I completely agree. To be honest, I think I’ve done this many times, unintentionally. Maybe I’ve done it in pride, out of pride that is disguised even to me?

    I think social media with its “like” buttons and view counts and retweets are a real test of humility. I know with my blogposts, that it’s been easy to want to make something that is “spreadable”. I always have to check my heart and make sure I’m doing it to make God’s name more known, not mine. Where are our hearts when we make videos or post & re-post statuses/tweets? We need to ask God to give us pure hearts & actions, and to help us not give the devil a foothold.

    By the way, I like you put our weatherman’s name in there :) haha

  36. 36Ian
    Jan 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Great note Craig.

    I do get concerned and little surprised at how many prominent Christian leaders keep talking up the importance of such things as “klout scores”, and so on. Self-promotion is a tough line. When do you allow God to use your message to build influence. This is a tough topic and good that you’ve brought it up.

    I try to think about what would have Jesus done. I don’t think He would have been too concerned about His Klout score.

  37. 37J. Smith
    Jan 22, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I think you have brought attention to yourself through all these church locations and being the onscreen pastor in every one of them. You should let all the locations have their own pastor/teacher? Stay at yours in Edmond, OK and let the others have their own pastor?

  38. 38Denice
    Jan 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    We need to be careful not to feed someone who has a Pride aspect. It feels good to be told great things about ourselves, but some people gobble it up. And takes credit, for what God has allowed them to do. And it is like a beautiful oil painting, slung with mud.

  39. 39Rick B
    Jan 23, 2012 at 7:11 am

    It’s not hard, it’s totally NOT acceptable to promote yourself in this way, tempting though it may be. I get v frustrated when I see ambitious leaders behave this way. If you’re called to a ministry, let God pave the way.

  40. Jan 24, 2012 at 12:16 am

    This post reminds me of what you spoke on this weekend at LifeChurch.tv. Thinking before we speak or act so we don’t act like a fool. I think this also plays for social media and trying to think twice or ten times before tweeting or retweeting something. Can’t say I always do that but has been helpful many times when I wasn’t sure.

  41. 41GLynn
    Jan 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I actually stopped participating in your online church because I felt that the pastors you and Amy are retweeting are dubious. If you retweet them, you are telling me you support what they are doing, therefore, I can’t trust your judgement.

  42. Jan 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Pride is ugly in whatever format it raises its head in. Whether we eat or we drink or we tweet or whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God!

  43. 43Felix Quinones
    Jan 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I think there is a fine line that leaders must walk. Pastors are looking to celebrate victories and want to share testimonies with a larger group of people. Whether from the stage or a smart phone leaders must speak (tweet) out of a desire to honor God ALONE. Any other motive in any other forum is pride. It’s easy for leaders to find their identity and worth in receiving praise from on online audience.

  44. Jan 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    [...] PRIDE. We strive to keep this in check in our daily lives but what about our online lives? Pastor Craig Groeschel confronts the issue of pride on our blogs, Facebook, & Twitter.  [...]

  45. Jan 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    We’re so needy for everything but God - especially affirmation, influence, and attention; and we’ll use ministry and spiritual gifts to get those needs met. Been there, done that, do it all the time. God help me.

  46. 46Cassie
    Feb 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, read a lot of great responses, and a few no so great… I hadn’t considered this before but I agree a reply is absolutely a better route. As for retweeting statements you agree with, I don’t know anywhere other than the church that it would be supposed you agree with everything they say and do…that’s just ludicrous

  47. Feb 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Pride is one of sins that God hates the most. The first sin was pride, pride was found on Lucifer, the traitor archangel Lucifer, now Satan is full of pride and this traitor placing the same venom on churches. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20)

  48. Feb 13, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Retweeting is a careful balancing act. First ask, does this glorify God or myself? Will sharing this further bring glory to God? We must make ourselves smaller and make HIM greater. What God does through your writing or work is not about YOU. It is all about HIM. Is your tweet going to inspire others that God can use them to do amazing things? Maybe you should write a blog post instead of a retweet which glorifies God.

  49. 49CJ
    Feb 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I think goes beyond retweeting. What about posting on Facebook how you are praying at 4:00 am? First of all how can you be praying while checking statuses on FB? And secondly, where has the value of the prayer closet gone? There certainly a connotation in the scriptures about intimacy with the Lord.
    In addition I recently read a blog where a pastor posted a about how unselfish he was… What? Slight contradiction in my opinion.
    Anyway, I think the real issue is self-promotion which undoubtably rooted in pride.

  50. Apr 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Great post Pastor Craig … greetings from the UK :) … just finished watching K19: The Widowmaker with the family and it hadn’t occurred to me prior to watching the movie just how dangerous pride can be. The movie illustrates in this case how Moscow in 1961 was so keen to show the world how powerful they were by deploying their state of the art nuclear submarine, which in reality was constructed with sub standard components which led to half the crew dying from exposure to radiation. Then I realised that all wars stem from pride … and fear. So I guess my point is that our individual acts of disguised pride on the face of it aren’t that wrong … or are they? Isn’t it all a matter of the heart? If our thoughts about our neighbour are negative and that is the same as murder, then isn’t a seemingly ‘innocent’ RT that is really intended to glorify ourselves, the thin end of the wedge … and the thick end is all out war?

  51. Jun 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Good word and needed in our day. Spiritual pride is always toxic to the spirit, yet all too easy to cloak. It’s exacerbated by a segment of the Christian world which applauds and encourages it. We humans have an inimitable way of glorifying the paintbrush when we appreciate a painting. Understanding WHO created the painting helps one break loose of such delusions.

  52. Jun 28, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Interesting concept! Never thought of it that way. I guess even the concept of pride goes beyond our own way of thinking about it and possibly we should ask ourselves why pride means to us.

  53. Jul 23, 2012 at 3:17 am

    This is a good reminder that we all should be very careful when it comes to our intentions or motives.
    It is only between you and the Lord who truly knows our heartbeat!!! God bless and thank you!!!

  54. Nov 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

  55. Dec 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I Agree. Great Article. Grace and Peace!