- I Corinthians 3:5-6, 21
"... Apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5
One of the dangers in serving God and seeing success & fruit in a ministry is to forget that we are all merely servants or instruments of God. The success and fruit is not produced because of our talents or abilities, nor by our hard work (though it does require hard work to serve the Lord), nor by our training or our experience. It is God and only God who produces spiritual and eternal fruit in our lives and in the lives of others through our service. One of the most dangerous times in the life of a servant & disciple of Jesus is right after success. It is a common temptation to start believing that you are the one who is producing the successful results and the fruit. Pride is a common trait in us humans, and pastors and leaders and missionaries are certainly not immune to this potential problem.
When we first visited Brazil on a mission trip and then moved here, one of the first things I noticed in and outside of the churches is the humility of the people, and that generally the pastors and leaders here are more humble than their American counterparts. We see pride and ego on display in pastors & leaders here too occasionally, but when you compare here to the US it is much more prevalent in the US. In far too many churches pastors & leaders have been blinded by pride and ego, and they have lost sight of the truth that we are merely servants of God, nothing more and nothing less. Many pastors are put up on high pedestals in their churches, and in many they are regarded as some type of superstar Christian or like a super CEO of a large corporation. And it is not only the fault of the pastors themselves. The members of the churches help put them up on the pedestals. Rather than boasting about what God has done in their churches and ministries, they boast about how big the church has gotten or about what they have accomplished.
To be a servant of the Lord is an incredible privilege and honor that God gives us. But it is not a signal of a higher status than others, especially in God's eyes. We are merely servants, here to love and obey & follow Christ, and to bring Him glory. (also see Isaiah 49:3, I Corinthians 1:26-31, I Corinthians 15:9-10)