One day when Adrian Rogers was in high school, he walked up and down his football practice field and prayed for God to use his life.
He didn’t have a grand vision to offer God — in fact, he felt like he needed to get lower, so he knelt. When that wasn’t low enough, he laid prostrate on the ground.
Then when that wasn’t low enough either, he dug a hole and stuck his nose into it until the dirt came up his nostrils.
David Allen, who now serves as dean of the Adrian Rogers Center for Biblical Preaching at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tennessee, said he was a teenager when he heard a recording of Rogers telling that story in a sermon, and he “can still hear those words clear as a bell ringing in my ears.”
‘Totally dependent upon God’
He sees that image too when he thinks about humility and what it means to be “poor in spirit,” the topic of his sermon at this year’s Southern Baptist Pastors Conference June 11 in New Orleans. Allen’s sermon was the first of eight on the theme of “Beatitudes of a Pastor: Character Matters in Ministry.”
Preaching from Matthew 5:3, he said the phrase poor in spirit “comes to describe the humble, faithful person who has no hope on earth and places himself in the hands of God saying, ‘I am nothing; I have nothing; I am totally dependent upon you, O God.’ It’s the opposite of being rich in pride.”
Allen — who is also founder and editor-in-chief of PreachingCoach, a ministry that trains and mentors pastors and ministry leaders in preaching — said it’s impossible to reflect God’s light and seek the limelight at the same time.
“The worm of pride is ever threatening to eat into the fruit of the spirit in your life. The poison of pride sits inconspicuously on the shelf of your life,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to puff up these proud preacher hearts of ours, does it? A little praise, a little acclamation and we’re ready to burn incense to our own accomplishments.”
Allen challenged pastors not to let their ambition or abilities carry them beyond where their character can sustain them.
“We could use a few more Adrian Rogers in our convention, and we could use a hole for our nose,” Allen said. “Matthew 5:3 is the hole for your nose — ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ And Matthew 5:3 is the crown for your head — ‘for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.’ ”
To see more photos from Allen’s message, click here.