Why We Stole From the Church Pantry

I have vague memories of “stealing” from the church pantry as a child.

My father tasked me and my two brothers with grabbing a couple of items. I probably went for peanut butter and Spaghetti-Os. We were poor, living in the heart of the densest county in Florida.

My dad was the pastor of the church. Few in the congregation knew we were struggling to afford food. The church gladly would have helped had we asked. Instead, we simply “checked out” food from the pantry like others did when the church did food drives. No one questioned why.

Now, I’m a pastor, and I understand the tension my father was feeling.

Pastors are supposed to be pillars of spiritual strength.

Pastors are not supposed to ask for help.

Pastors are supposed to carry heavy burdens of others and not worry about themselves.

These are unwritten rules, and I believe pastors are more to blame for them than churches. I know I can struggle with pride. After all, I give help, not ask for it. It’s a dangerous place for anyone.

When Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he reminds them the church exists for giving and receiving.

We should give—most don’t.

We should receive—many are too prideful.

We should gladly sacrifice for others who need help.

And when we need healing, we should gladly receive help.

God uses churches that give and receive. God uses people that give and receive.

We didn’t need to take from a church that was willing to give. But pride kept us from asking. Pride prevents healing. Pride blocks forgiveness. Pride destroys relationships.

I like to argue. I prefer the term “debate.” But when I debate with my wife, she will say we had an argument. It’s probably best for me not to debate the semantics of arguing. What I do know is that a debate becomes an argument when pride takes hold. Pride keeps me debating even when I know I’m wrong. Pride makes me want to win the argument more than show concern for a relationship.

I argue with my wife when I shouldn’t. My family “borrowed” from the church pantry rather than ask for help.

Pride might keep you from going to church.

Pride might keep you from admitting fault.

Pride might keep you from forgiving someone.

Pride is dangerous. It’s destructive. In fact, the book of Proverbs reveals that pride is what precedes destruction. Pride takes us down a one-way, dead-end street.

Why am I sharing about the struggle of pride?

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Sam  Rainer
Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (rainerresearch.com), a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also serves as senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at twitter.com/samrainer, or at his blog, samrainer.wordpress.com.

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