Pastor Larry Whiteford drove a little orange Honda. Even though he was the Senior Pastor and the founder of the church, he didn’t have a special parking place for himself. He parked at the far end of the parking lot and walked in on Sunday morning. He always arrived before anyone else. He could have parked anywhere he wanted to park.
One day he explained this unusual behavior to me. “I don’t think it’s good to take that honor upon myself. There are older members that need to park close. I need the exercise and the walk gives me a chance to pray for the people that will park in those spaces and attend our services this morning.”
I admired that way of thinking.
Years later I drove up to the church where I had been called to be the Senior Pastor. There was a nice sign that read: “Sr. Pastor Parking.” Next to it were two places that said, “Associate Pastor Parking.”
In my heart I liked the idea of being honored, being considered important. Remembering Pastor Whiteford’s practice though, I immediately asked the trustees to remove the signs and replace them with “Visitor Parking” signs.
I told them I would park in the far end of the lot. I said; “I could use the exercise and while I am walking in I can pray for the people who will be attending the services.”
Walking toward the church one morning I forgot to pray for the people. Instead a dark thought came into my mind. I thought to myself, “I’m glad I’m not like those other pastors who are so eager for their own honor that they have private parking spaces.”
Pride is a subtle sin that can thrive in a religious environment like mold in the shower. It is a dragon that is very hard to slay.
“Humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33 ESV)
Riverfront Character Inn
February 6, 2006