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The Problem with Peacocks (arrogance can obliterate your ministry impact)

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

I kicked a peacock once…literally.

Twenty six and a half years ago I got into a bad argument with my lovely wife. We were driving from the airport to the hotel on our honeymoon in Orlando. (Yes, we got into a horrific argument just before our honeymoon officially began!)


I remember pulling the rented Lincoln Towncar into a strip mall and storming out of my car looking for something to kick. A wall would have sufficed. But there on the grassy edges of the strip mall was an innocent peacock.

Sadly, it absorbed my wrath.

Now, before you call PETA to turn me in, I think I only hit the feathers. My new bride yelled from the car, “That’s mature…kicking a peacock!” I yelled back, “I’LL KICK A PEACOCK!!!”

Not my finest moment. 

The real problem was that I was the peacock that needed to get kicked. I was full of pride and arrogance and wanted things done “my way.” As James 4:1,2 reminds us, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” 

What was true of me in my early years of marriage and ministry (and sometimes still is if I’m completely honest) is true of far too many preachers, pastors, youth leaders, missionaries and evangelists. And it brings true kingdom momentum to a screeching halt. You see, we can’t be full of ourselves and the Holy Spirit at the same time. 

And God won’t answer the prayers of ministry peacocks. James goes on to write, “You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” James 4:2,3.

As a young kid when I asked my barrel-chested, giant-fisted, no-nonsense grandpa about a particular guy he would sometimes say, “He’s fine. He just needs to have his @!X! kicked once.” Over the years I’ve recalled that sentence in my mind when I’ve met ministry leaders who jut and strut and boast and brag about their ministry impact.

But God loves them too much to leave their @!X!’s unkicked. 

While we can’t control the peacockiness in other leaders’ hearts we can deal with the pride problem in our own. Good old James tells us how…

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  James 4:6-10

Let’s come near to God and see his greatness. In that blinding light let’s see ourselves for who he is and who we are. Then let’s humble ourselves before him and he will lift us up.

And that’s way better than being the peacock that gets kicked.

Unlikely Fighter

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The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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