The Source Of A Good Ego Stroke

CEO, team leader, pastor, principle, president, doctor, lead counsel, public speaker, author, inventor, blogger, mayor, representative, teacher and leader.

All of these titles carry a significant amount of public exposure, high visibility and ego boost with them.

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I should know. I’m one of them.

For over 15 years I’ve been in very visible role as a youth pastor, communicator, and team leader. The current church I serve in, as well as the previous, are very large churches so lots of people know who I am, even if I have never met them before.

I have to be honest, there’s a “feel-good” part of what I do. The accolades and applause feel kind of nice every once in a while. The “atta-boy” emails and “you’re the best” notes are quite encouraging.

You and I who serve in these types of positions would be lying to ourselves and the world around us if we didn’t acknowledge that. While living by humility and with a servant’s heart is the healthiest thing for any leader to do, we are all human. We all have a twinge in us that likes the ego boost.

The problem is: it’s fleeting. Did you know that? Ego strokes only carry you so far. That’s what I’ve discovered over the past 7 years. I used to gobble up ego strokes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I used them to get me through to the next big thing.

But when they stopped coming, or became less frequent, or worse, turned negative, I became depressed and viewed myself, and my work, as a failure. When I would arrive home to my wife and kids, and there were no ego-strokes or applause, I would become frustrated.

And then it hit me one day- my family is not responsible for stroking my ego. They’re not responsible for singing my praises when I “grace them with my presence at the end of the day!”

Do you know what they’re responsible? Anchoring me to reality. Keeping me tethered to humility and servanthood. And that is a very, very good thing.

Truth is- if ego strokes are fleeting, and not long-lasting in the first place, then why would I chase after them as my source of strength? And how in the world could I demand that my wife and kids deliver this? It’s not fair and it’s certainly not healthy! I need reality. I need humility. I need to be taught servanthood.

What I’ve personally discovered is this: I could chase after ego strokes, and accolades, and the applause of people I barely know. In doing what I do, there will never be a shortage of this. But at the end of day, it’s not what sustains me. My family does that. My close friends do that. They anchor me to reality. They tether me to the truth. That’s what I need. That’s what keeps me healthy. That’s my source of strength!

I’ve learned the value of humility. It’s very difficult to pursue, at times, but I’m learning every day of my life. I thank God that He has given me an incredible family who teaches me and challenges me to live by this.


Question: Are you chasing ego strokes and accolades as your source of strength? What needs to change?

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