When Personal Success Can Become Dangerous

Sometimes pride gets in the way of your ability to receive coaching.
Sometimes pride gets in the way of your ability to receive coaching. (iStock photo )

This morning, my Bible reading guide brought me to 2 Chronicles 26 and the story of Uzziah. Uzziah was a great king in Judah. He began to reign as king at only 16 years old and he reigned for 52 years.

According to the Bible, Uzziah did "what was right in the eyes of the Lord ... he set himself to seek God ... And as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper."

The first half of 2 Chronicles 26 is filled with stories of Uzziah's accomplishments and his valor. Verse 15 ends by saying, "And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong."

Verse 16 marks a transition in the chapter with these words: "And as he grew strong, his heart grew more proud, leading to his destruction."

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As a result of his pride, Uzziah overstepped his bounds as king. He decided that success in one area (king) qualified him to exercise leadership in another arena and as a result, he entered the temple to offer incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest attempted to stop him, but Uzziah moved forward with his offering, and as a result suffered the judgment of the Lord:

"Then Uzziah was enraged, and in his hand was a censer for incense. And when he became angry with the priests, leprosy appeared on his forehead in front of the priests in the house of the Lord, near the altar of incense. Then Azariah the head priest and all the priests turned to him, and he had leprosy on his forehead; and they hastened to remove him from there, and he also hurried to leave because the Lord had struck him. So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day of his death. He dwelt in a separate house with his unclean disease because he was cut off from the house of the Lord" (2 Chron. 26:19-21, MEV).

As I prayed through these verses this morning, I was reminded first of Proverbs 18:1: "He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he seeks and quarrels against all wisdom."

Uzziah's pride created a snare into which he could fall, but the Lord graciously provided someone to hold Uzziah accountable. Azariah was there, he tried to keep Uzziah from sin, but Uzziah had isolated himself, not physically, but emotionally and otherwise. Not even the chief priest was qualified to advise Uzziah, so great was his pride that he was convinced he could not be wrong. He broke out against all sound wisdom of the chief priest and 80 other priests of the Lord.

Pride isolates us. Pride makes it easy to believe not only that you know best, but that no one else could possibly advise you with wisdom. Accountability is an absolute necessity for believers, and especially for pastors, but accountability is only as good as one's willingness to be held accountable. Uzziah had at least 81 men of anointing and valor speaking truth into his life, but Uzziah still broke out against their sound judgment.

As you seek out those who will hold you accountable, look for people of character and valor, those who live lives of holiness but who also have the backbone to get in your face and tell you that you are in sin or are in danger of destruction. People who will not confront you in your sin cannot hold you accountable. They may be fun, but they must not be your counselors.

As I pondered these truths this morning, I prayed Proverbs 30:8-9 for myself: "Remove vanity and lies far from me—give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full, and deny You, and say, "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

It should be the prayer of God's people that they are never given success or opportunities that exceed their character. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven. Success left unchecked breeds self-reliance and self-reliance breeds pride, and pride goes before the fall (Prov. 16:18).

Join with me in praying that God would keep us all from prideful and haughty attitudes. I would also ask that you pray for me, that God would always develop my character before he gives me success.

Craig Thompson has served as senior pastor of Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, South Carolina for the last seven years. He is married to Angela, and they have two kids, Wyatt and Aubrey. He is awaiting graduation for his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he wrote his dissertation on Worldview Preaching.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com/pastors.

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