It took quite some time for me to realise how big a problem pride had become in my life.
I suppose it started with the little things: Serving actively in Church and elsewhere in a Christian organisation, I began to feel a quiet pressure to pray eloquently with bombastic words.
I loved reading the Bible, but at some point, I began reading not to enjoy God’s word and mature in it – but to feel as competent and knowledgeable as the rest of my friends. Even in worship, I focused on singing rather than the lyrics.
I couldn’t see the problem because pride blinds us to our weaknesses.
Writing on pride, Jonathan Edwards notes that “[spiritual] pride is the main spring or at least the main support of all other errors.” Like weeds in a lawn – unless removed from its roots – pride will continue to grow.
It’s difficult to escape from pride – not even angels did. Though a person may be serving God, pride can still seep into his heart, making him depart from growing increasingly Christ-like to striving for self-righteousness instead.
Many of us who are actively serving strive to live like little Christs – aware that we are leaders church-goers look up to. Timothy Keller shares how easy it is to fall into the trap of pride when serving in ministry. He says that when we speak to others about God, we either “commune with God or act like you commune with God.”
Sometimes we do the latter and end up making ourselves seem closer to God that we actually are. And when others start to think that, we may also start to think it.
After noticing the shift in motivation for many of my actions, I recognised that pride had crept into my life and asked God for forgiveness. The following are some examples of pride having taken root in our life.
- Being highly critical of others – but never myself
- Being unable to take criticism
- Striving for attention
- Praying only with others but never when alone
- Feeling threatened by peers as “fervent” in ministry
It’s not an exhaustive list. Pride makes you think too highly of yourself, which thus makes it challenging to even acknowledge the problem of pride. It takes prayerful discernment to be alert to pride. We need to keep a close watch on our hearts and its intentions, to draw strength and wisdom from our heavenly Father to discern and be alert to pride.
Like weeds in a lawn – unless removed from its roots – pride will continue to grow.
By myself, I knew I was powerless in the battle against pride. So the only thing I could do was to kneel and repent – asking God to free me from the bondage of pride. As I did so, I was reminded that as children of God, we have the Holy Spirit in us to show us how to live righteous lives (John 14:26).
If you have an issue with pride as I do, the first step is to acknowledge and admit that you are struggling with it. Look at the areas in your life which show signs of pride: Academic results? Talents? Wealth? Acknowledging areas of pride in your life will help you to avoid potential pitfalls. It also helps to journey with spiritual mentors who can keep you accountable.
In the Bible, pride is a common issue in people’s lives. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for being prideful. He questioned them, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
When the Corinthians failed to acknowledge that their gifts and wealth were from God, it led to the growth of pride in their hearts. So look to the cross and be reminded of his Grace for you. Know that all things come from Him.
All we deserved was death, and yet Jesus gave us everything: He is the only thing we should ever boast about.