“Pride goes before a fall.” The all-familiar saying adapted from scripture certainly rings true right now for me. But it’s not just a choice few who struggle with pride. Pride runs rampant in our society and I would venture to say that it is the number one root of sinful behavior. We all have our vices right? I have heard that countless times. If it’s true then that also means we all have pride. Addicts take their selfish pride to another level, that much is certain. But we all have pride. If you don’t think you suffer from pride then more than likely it has a tighter grip on you than you realize. What I am starting to realize is that pride, much like the enemy himself, is subtle and often flies under the radar. It can be impossible to detect – that is without the Holy Spirit. Its not always displayed in an in-your-face manner like that cocky guy in the gym or that girl obsessed with her looks. Over the last month God has spoken many things to me (and through me) and the most frequent piece of wisdom He keeps bringing to me is two words, “Humble yourself.” I think the reason He keeps telling me over and over is because I need a reminder of how selfish I am. I need a reminder every day actually!
The Back Seat Driver
I have always been a bit of a control freak. I hate being a passenger most of the time. I cannot sleep in a vehicle. Ever. I am constantly fighting back thoughts of how I would drive the car differently, how I would do it better. I am sure many of you are the same. For me this is a perfect metaphor of my life. For some reason I find it so excruciatingly hard to fully let go of control. I find it hard to fully trust someone with my life. So why am I like this? Why do I think that my driving knowledge and abilities is better than the average person? The answer is simple: pride. This analogy may not ring true for you so in case it doesn’t, I have composed a list of related attitudes that all have a tie to this thing called pride.
- If you find it difficult to admit you are wrong.
- If you think you know more than the average person.
- If you don’t respect other’s opinions.
- If you don’t think other people can teach you anything.
- If you think your problems are more important than other people’s problems.
- If you don’t think that anyone can relate to you.
All of these things (and these are just a few) are textbook examples of selfishness and pride. At times throughout my life I have been guilty of all of them. I have always hated losing and I hate losing arguments just as much as competitive games. That’s not healthy. That’s pride.
Humility can save your life
I was watching a special broadcast about a week ago that recounted the gut wrenching story of the recent earthquake in Nepal. It focused on the hikers who were trapped after the avalanche demolished their base camp and killed and injured many. Two of the hikers who were trapped up on the mountain when the earthquake hit was a father and daughter from Arizona. Before the earthquake, the father was suffering through AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and was struggling to breathe on his own. His daughter began to plead with him to go back down so he could recover but he wouldn’t listen. His pride got the better of him. Each day his condition worsened and they actually began to run out of oxygen tanks for him to use. Then the earthquake struck and the subsequent avalanche. They were stranded for a few days cut off from all supply lines and base camps. The situation looked very grim as his health and oxygen level spiraled downward. They were alerted that no helicopters could reach them because of the extreme conditions following the avalanche. If it were not for the best helicopter pilot in the world, a Swiss hero who ran some 40 something flights in one day, that father would not be alive today.
For me this was a chilling reminder of the times I have chosen not to listen to others, the Holy Spirit included. Because of my pride, I was convinced that my own strength is good enough. I was convinced that my own views and opinions were superior to others. Why do so many people refuse to go to the doctor? Why do so many people even if they go to the doctor refuse to take their medication? Why do so many of us refuse to go see a therapist or counselor? Why do we, time and time again, fail to heed the wise advice of others? Simple answer: Pride. A simple anecdote to pride is humility. The first step toward humility in my opinion is learning how to listen to others. Here are some other characteristics of living a humble life.
- Humility is admitting you may be wrong.
- Humility is accepting that you don’t know everything.
- Humility is respecting other’s point of view.
- Humility is seeking wise counsel and actually acting on it.
- Humility is making decisions with others in mind.
Making it second nature
Pride comes easily to us. Humility is counter intuitive. It really is a battle and unlike soccer there will be no draw. One will always be winning, one will lose out. Pride wins because we are innately selfish and so it’s the easier road. The more we allow selfish, prideful and toxic thoughts to consume our minds then the more we will act on those thoughts. The more we act on those thoughts then the more we allow sinful lifestyles to take hold of us. Humility can only win if we fight for it. We have to train our minds to be humble. You don’t just pray and wake up the next morning as Mother Theresa. It’s a process, just like giving in to pride was a process. Making a life of humility second nature takes time and it takes consistency. I must fight this battle against my pride because I recognize it has been the number one cause of my addiction. When I allow God to break through my pride then I will be getting somewhere. Then the shame, justifications, control, etc. can and will be addressed. They cannot be addressed as long as I am consumed with pride.