THEME: Pride and Preachers

by Bruce Reeves

Synopsis: While teachers of God’s word should be confident in the Scriptures and zealously proclaim Christ, they must do so with the attitude of Jesus (Phil. 2:5).


It is hard to imagine a more significant work than teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Paul wrote, “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (Rom. 10:15). When we fully realize that we are serving the blessed Savior, our hearts should be filled with reverence and humility before our divine King.

Preachers Are Servants

As we preach the gospel, it is critical that we appreciate our role as servants of Christ and our brethren. Due to the carnality in the church at Corinth, there was an unhealthy attitude toward various teachers. Paul encouraged them to be “complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). Some were claiming to be of Paul, some of Apollos, and others of Cephas. Rather than recognizing the importance of the One who had died for them and in whose name they had been baptized (1 Cor. 1:13), the Corinthians were boasting about those who had baptized them (1 Cor. 1:15-17).

As a result of this thinking, Paul addressed their view of their teachers (1 Cor. 3:1-3) and clarified the role of preachers in the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 3:4-11). Notice Paul’s admonition: “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). As we proclaim the gospel, we must always give glory to God for the opportunity of doing good and acknowledge that it is “God who causes growth,” not we ourselves. There is no room for “jealousy and strife” among “fellow-workers” (1 Cor. 3:3, 9); instead, we must determine to preach “Christ and Him crucified” so that those who hear us will depend on the “power of God” and not the “wisdom of men” (1 Cor. 2:1-2, 5).

With that said, sinful pride can defile any of us and is quite deceptive. There are no greater Satanic tools for destroying faithful preachers of the gospel than pride, selfishness, and conceit. Paul warned Timothy of these very dangers, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26). While teachers of God’s word should be confident in the Scriptures and zealously proclaim Christ, we must do so with the attitude of Jesus (Phil. 2:5). John warns that the love of the world entices us through “the desire of the flesh, desire of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

Can One Preach the Truth Wrongly?

Some seem to think that as long as one is speaking the truth, nothing else matters. However, Paul encourages the brethren at Ephesus to “preach the truth in love” even as the “deceitful scheming” of false teaching is reproved (Eph. 3:14-15). He describes both those who preach the truth “sincerely,” as well as those who preach Christ out of “selfish ambition,” “envy,” and “strife” (Phil. 1:15-18). Paul is not describing the Judaizers, whom he later depicts as “dogs,” “evil workers,” and “enemies of the cross” (Phil. 3:2, 18), but instead, describes those who are teaching the truth about Christ with the wrong motives. Paul rejoiced that they were preaching Christ and was willing to leave the final judgment of their motives to God. Nevertheless, this passage shows us that pride can enter the hearts of those who are teaching the truth of the gospel. Even when we are defending the hope of Christ, we must do so with “meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).

What Does Pride Look Like in Preachers?

One red flag of pride in preachers is that of self-promotion. When our goal is the advancement of our personal agenda, notoriety, and objectives, rather than the advancement of the message of the gospel and the wellbeing of God’s people, then there is a definite problem in our thinking. One of the great contrasts between the apostle Paul and the false teachers in Corinth was their motive for teaching. For instance, Paul’s boasting was not in himself, but in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 10:1-6, 17; 11:13-14; 12:1-10). Likewise, in writing to the Galatians, he describes the fleshly boasting of the Judaizing teachers who were troubling the brethren (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:7-15; 6:12-14). If our work is designed to gain a following more than to bring people closer to Christ, if our teaching is intended to feed and fulfill our egotism rather than to glorify God, or if we are more concerned about people supporting us than in upholding the truth—then we should seriously reexamine our perspective of what it means to preach the gospel.

Another sign of pride in our lives as preachers is the thought that our “sins” are more defensible than the sins of others. We, too, must constantly examine our hearts and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Satan has destroyed many a preacher’s influence because of immorality. As gospel preachers, we must exercise constant diligence to resist the wicked one. We should never think, “Well, that could never happen to me.” Paul warns us all to “take heed lest you fall” (1 Cor. 10:12-13). Pride has led preachers to move from offering counseling and instruction to engaging in extra-marital affairs, consuming pornography, and maliciously slandering their brethren, including their fellow-laborers in the gospel. Pride has led men to neglect their wives and children because, after all, they are “preaching the gospel.” Yet, the gospel calls us all to love our wives and children, to love our brothers and sisters, and to glorify our Creator through sanctified lives (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 1:22).

Pride can also be seen in those who depart from clear biblical truth to absurdly unbiblical teachings because they have allowed bitterness and a carnal desire for notoriety to fill their hearts. Our objective must always be to teach the truth “in season and out of season” as a genuine reflection of love for our God (2 Tim. 4:1-6).


As gospel preachers, let us pursue our Lord zealously, love His word passionately, and share His heart with our families, our brethren, and the lost. Pride is our enemy, but grace leads us to humility. “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. . . Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (Jas. 4:6-7, 10). Great good comes when we preach the truth in love with humility!

Author Bio

Bruce has labored with the Highway 65 church of Christ in Conway, AR for twenty years. He and his wife, Rachel, have one child. The church website is He can be reached at