From pride to humility
When you do a good job, it’s nice to get the appreciation, the praise; just a simple “thank you” can make a difference to the whole day. That might be from solving the missing number on a spreadsheet, bringing a team member up to speed on recent plans, fixing the wonky pedal on a child’s bike, calming the storm after a family argument, or simply loading the dishwasher. A bit of gratitude goes a long way.
How do we respond though, if the environment feels a bit more competitive, perhaps we feel we are not getting the attention or appreciation for our efforts, or even the respect we are due? What is our emotional or verbal response when someone else seems to get more noticed or more encouragement – in the department, in the team, on the sports ground, in the church, amongst the extended family? How do we react?
What if we realised that we struggle with pride – the number one in the list of deadly sins. Not the ‘cartoon’ version of the character who can do no wrong in their own eyes, although, to be fair, there are plenty of everyday examples of that in our midst, from sports stars and politicians to people who we perhaps mix with and work with. Some behave as though sheer force of personality trumps facts or the need for kindness. Some people don’t want your opinion, they are always right.
Pride is more subtle and dangerous than that. An American pastor and writer, Kevin DeYoung, calls it the ‘villain with a thousand faces’.
Pride in good work, in our kids or playing our part may not be a bad thing at all. But pride where we have a focus on our place in the scheme of things, how much praise we receive, whether we are noticed and given status – such a way of thinking sets us up for a fall. It also runs against the grain of how God has made us, and that counter-cultural yet beautiful and powerful quality of humility.
[God] gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.James 4:6, 10
Pride also doesn’t look very Jesus-like, does it?
When our status comes from a security of being known and loved by the Creator of the universe, personally bound to him in his Son, Jesus Christ, with his grace available to us each day and his Spirit working within us, whether we get the praise or status we feel is ours takes on a different perspective.
We don’t need to think less of ourselves, but we can think of ourselves less.
God delights in the humble, and delights to reveal and deconstruct our pride, to dispose of that lingering trait which would hinder our joy and growth, and deepen our humility.
Where can we take a step back this week from centre-stage?
We can still do great work, build marriages, perform the spreadsheet magic, encourage the team, load the dishwasher, and but finding a new joy from our Father above.
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