A couple of years ago, I attended the Christian Leadership Alliance conference. It’s a great conference to attend if you’re in ministry. In the “Lead Like Jesus” seminar, the role of the ego was discussed. The instructor wrote this visual out for us:
EGO = Edging God Out
It was one of those light bulb mic drop moments. I can’t think of a more perfect description of ego. When our ego gets out of control, we become a god to ourselves and act as a god to others.
Nebuchadnezzar was a king who suffered from tremendous ego. Like, scary tremendous, and he had all the power to back it up. He used his power to get what he wanted, conquering lands and people. He ruled by fear and intimidation. He demanded full allegiance. He set himself up above all – and he could because he owned it all. However, no matter how hard he tried – including building a 90ft gold statue of himself that everyone was required to worship – there was one thing he couldn’t be: God.
God sent a dream to Nebuchadnezzar, and then He sent Nebuchadnezzar’s employee to Nebuchadnezzar to interpret the dream. The warning was this: stop sinning and thinking you created it all and control it all, get some humility, acknowledge God, or everything will be taken away. But Nebuchadnezzar didn’t head the warning: “By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor,” he proclaimed as he walked the roof of his palace (Daniel 4:30). And just like that, he lost it all – his wealth, his kingdom, and his mind. But God’s grace stepped in… when Nebuchadnezzar repented and acknowledged God, he was restored.
Ego is a terrible thing. It will make us believe all the good things we have are because of our own work. It can make us feel untouchable. Humility reminds us it’s all from God. If we don’t get our ego in check, God will check it for us. And if we’re part of checking someone’s ego like God had Daniel do for Nebuchadnezzar, it’s scary to think we could be thrown in the 2021 version of a lions’ den, but we WILL have God’s protection like Daniel did. It will be downright terrifying, no question, but extreme faith only happens in extreme situations.
“[The Scriptures] say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:5-7
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