Last week I prepared to teach a group of pastors at the Oklahoma Baptist University’s Pastor’s School. In four hours of teaching, I unpacked 1 Peter 5:1-5. I consider this the most important New Testament teaching on the work of a pastor. That paragraph closes with a call to cultivate humility.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Peter uses vocabulary that echoes back to Jesus. “Clothe” is a verb that means “tie on.” Peter says, “Tie on humility.” Thus, he is reminding us of the night on which Jesus was betrayed.

Remember, He rose from the table, tied on an apron and washed the feet of His disciples. Then, Jesus commanded His disciples to do likewise—serve one another with humility.

Pride poisons relationships between pastors and their people. When relationships rupture, pride is almost always present.

Sometimes the pastor lets pride take root. Maybe it is moral pride, intellectual pride or even pride in his position of influence.

Years ago, the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada paid for a three-year study to determine what qualities churches desire in a pastor. They were expecting to find that churches were looking for good preaching, strong leadership, effective counseling—things you learn in seminary. Instead, they found that the desire of most church members is more basic; they were looking for honesty, integrity and humility.

Basic people skills facilitate pastoral ministry. Humility is the foundation for all relational effectiveness. Oh, pastor, watch out for pride. Your pride is offensive to God and man.

Pride is not only the preacher’s problem. Many members of the flock allow pride to find a foothold. It is your pride that keeps you from reconciliation. Your pride resists correction, and your pride is easily offended. Your pride makes you hesitate to honor the shepherd of God’s flock. Finding fault instead of following is a red-flag warning of the presence of pride.

How can we cultivate humility?

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died;

My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4: 1-2).