Most of us have probably heard at one point that, “Pride goes before a fall.” While most of us will agree on this idea, what causes mass confusion in today’s world is where is the line between what is OK and what is too prideful.
In the next few paragraphs, I will attempt to share my thoughts on this subject, why aspects of pride are so misunderstood, and what we can do to redirect our lives to protect ourselves from pride.
What is Pride?
The definition I use for pride is, “anything that ultimately brings the focus onto me, whether it is onto me directly, or onto me through other individuals.” A “proud” person is one who can shout from the podium, “Look what I’ve done” and with this statement, people will then turn their attention to the person. This is what I will call “public pride”.
A different type of pride is also rampant in culture today, and we will call this “hidden (or private) pride”. Hidden pride still draws attention to the individual, but instead of looking at the accomplishments, it looks at the failures. Having a “pity-party” for someone is focusing on that person, and that falls under our definition of pride as well.
What Makes Pride so Bad?
Many people have asked this question, “Why should I not be able to have praise or sympathy directed my way?” This is a valid question; however what are the motives behind asking it? If you are simply asking about what to do when someone congratulates you, then this is OK, however, if you begin to do things with the end-goal of getting praise from others, then this becomes pride at work in your life.
I can speak personally about this, and I am sure that you and every reader of this newsletter can relate personally too. We all have the internal desire to be praised, wanted, and have love directed towards us. Why is this bad?
In my own experience, the more I allow pride to enter into my life, the less I will be open to listening to others. If someone has a concern, pride will turn the focus onto me away from their concern. If someone wants to correct me, pride will try to discredit their position, push me to being defensive, and it will help me save-face in the situation. If someone shows love to me, pride makes me become a black-hole, always taking in and never letting love out unless I know it will be coming back. In all these cases, pride directs the focus onto me.
When I am closed to others ideas and opinions, then I will be more likely to make mistakes, and people will stop being a friend to me. (See the hidden pride in that statement.) Pride does lead to destruction.
What about . . . ?
In our culture, we are told to have good self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. How do these things (plus the over 400 other words in the English language with the prefix “self-“) have to do with pride?
With our working definition above, all these things fall under pride, though under a more “socially acceptable” umbrella. All these things are me looking at me. I know that looking at my life and the mistakes I have made, that I am not good enough to be a poster-child for any behavior – whether it is positive or negative. As an example, if I place my worth (self-worth) on my accomplishments, then what happens when I fail horribly? It will devastate me to the core.
What Should Replace Pride?
The only thing that can replace pride is humility. Like pride is drawing attention to me, humility is sharing credit with those who deserve it, including other people and God. Humility seeks to push the positives onto others, and take responsibility for the negatives (while not dwelling on them).
Pride seeks to gain control and status. Humility seeks to give others control and lift others up — all with no promises of any mutual benefit. The benefit is solely placed away from self. True service will always come from a spirit of humility, because it is serving without the promise of a reward.
By genuinely serving others, with a humble attitude, we are able to break the grip of pride in our lives. By being willing to listen to others, and remain teachable, we are able to avoid the destruction that others are trying to warn us about. By placing our worth on an accurate picture of what God thinks of us, and not on what we do or what others think, we are able to live out true “God-Worth” in our lives.
So what do you think? Is pride such a bad thing? Is self-focus a negative concept in your mind? How do you balance pride and humility in your own life?
Join the discussion below!