3 Ways Ministry Can Make You Conceited

Tim Keller | July 5, 2017


I’ve been in ordained vocational ministry for 42 years. Many who started with me didn’t get to the finish line. It’s a grievous percentage. One of the main reasons so many didn’t last, I think, is because no one warned them about the ways ministry can tempt you with pride.

This is where Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 have been so helpful to me as a pastor. Paul—the very apostle trained in theology and for ministry by the actual risen Christ—warns us that theological training and life in ministry can lead to conceit if you fail to cooperate with Christ’s gracious intervention. 

Here are three ways ministry can make you conceited unless God intervenes. Pastors, be warned.

1. Theological Knowledge Can Puff You Up

First, there’s the conceit of theological knowledge. Now, you might think, It’s a stretch to say Paul is arguing theological knowledge leads to conceit. But elsewhere he says, “We all possess knowledge, but knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:1–2). 

Here he’s explicitly talking about theological knowledge. Some in Corinth had the right theological knowledge about meat offered to idols, but what did it lead to? Being…


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