I had been serving in the church high school ministry for just over a year. I loved it! It had become my passion. Though I was still a senior in high school, I had been asked to be a campus leader and was doing some teaching under the mentorship of our youth pastor. I knew in my heart that this was training for a lifetime in ministry. I could feel the Holy Spirit working through me. I was having the time of my life.
One of the key leaders of the ministry called to see if I could meet with him. I was so excited. What new area of responsibility or challenge might I be facing? What affirmation might I hear for my passionate and faithful sacrifice of close to twenty hours of volunteer service each week?
We sat on the grass by the church administration offices. I looked at this godly leader whom I respected so much. He was high energy, articulate about his faith, a leader of leaders, and he had the biggest afro I had ever seen on a white guy. What wasn't there to respect? I was ready to receive Yoda-like insight from this great leader.
He looked me in the eye and said, "Kevin, you have a problem with pride. We are going to remove you from your ministry position so you can work on this weak point in your character."
I got fired! That's right, I got released from a volunteer job. It's bad enough to get fired from a real paying job, but this was just plain humiliating.
My appreciation for and awe of this man melted away instantly. I thought to myself (and I'll give you the PG-rated version), "Are you firing me? I'm a volunteer! Who are you to talk about my having a pride problem; you are one of the cockiest guys I have ever met! You can take your advice and this volunteer ministry position and…." Suffice it to say, I was angry.
My mind was reeling, but thankfully I had the restraint to keep my mouth shut. I listened. I pondered his words. Sure, I was outraged, but as I sat there in stunned silence, the truth sank in. Waves of emotion hit me: first was rage, then shock, then defensiveness, then a strange and peaceful calm.
He was right!
As I looked at this bearer of bad news, his monstrous afro swaying in the breeze, I was certain he had a very similar pattern of pride in his life. But the Holy Spirit hit me over the head with a simple, painful, and deeply needed word. I had a problem, and it was making me ineffective in ministry. Pride was ruling my heart. God helped me look past the messenger and listen to the message.