Pride. The thing that will never cease to bring you farther from God and the sole purpose of God. It’s because of pride that you feel your hard work isn’t being acknowledged by your boss. It’s because of pride that you feel resentful he wants to watch the game even though you skipped a night out with the girls for him. It’s because of pride that you can’t end a conversation potentially being wrong. I’ve noticed that pride is often the cause of dispute, loneliness, discontentment, anger, hatred, greed, and even divorce. We never think we have it, which proves we all do.
Why does God hate the proud? Because it goes against literally everything God stands for. God says the greatest commandment is to love him (Mark 12:30). But with pride, we love ourselves more. Because now, we’re putting ourselves on a pedestal and expect others to notice. We reflect inward. We look for what we can get out of it. We focus on our own image and how others view us. We focus on your own needs, and put others’ to the side when God says it’s the other way around.
Now I’m explaining pride in a way that’s somewhat obnoxious and easy to identify. But be aware that pride presents itself in many hidden forms. It’s choosing not to talk to your classmate because their fashion style is a bit “off”. It’s refusing to say I’m sorry. It’s disrespecting the janitor of your office because they don’t have a degree like yours. It’s questioning someone else’s parenting style because their kids aren’t as well behaved as yours. It’s refuting criticism. It’s labeling the one client at your clinic as “crazy”.
You want to know how I view pride? A lack of love. Either for God, or for other people. All of those scenarios above have one thing in common— there is absolutely no love or sympathy for your neighbor.
There was a website I stumbled upon that listed 41 evidences of pride. Some of my favorites were as follows:
Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?
Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those thoughts to others?
Do you frequently correct or criticize your mate, your pastor, or other people in positions of leadership (teachers, youth director, etc.)?
Are you proud of the schedule you keep, how disciplined you are, how much you are able to accomplish?
Are you argumentative? Do you have a hard time admitting when you’re wrong?
Do you have a hard time sharing your needs/struggles with others?
Do you neglect to express gratitude to others?
Is it hard for you to let others know when you need help? Either practically or spiritually?
Do you get hurt if your accomplishments/acts of service are not recognized or rewarded?
Are you sitting here thinking of how many of these questions apply to someone else and not yourself?
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced these actions/thoughts at one time or another, which proves that we all often become prideful whether we want to admit it or not.
For #2 specifically, we downplay others’ achievements to magnify our own. And this is perhaps the only opportunity one has to glorify oneself – by making others seem unimpressive. I've found that once this becomes a habit, it can sometimes be difficult to get out of, as complimenting someone who you've always criticized can be perceived as awkward or fake. I struggle with this particularly with my family. After constantly bashing on and criticizing my brother, if I try to change my behavior by complimenting and encouraging him, it feels… weird. And sometimes he takes it as in-genuine or a joke. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I should give up hope on trying to change my attitude. The phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it” is definitely applicable here. To avoid feeling awkward about it, I just try to remind myself why I want to change my behavior, and how it’s going to help my relationship with my brother. Like I said, I’m still working on it, because I’m not perfect.
There are a couple other “evidences” that I've identified in my own life and didn’t see on the website.
11. Are you or act like you’re never surprised or impressed?—Surprise signals to someone that we didn’t know something. And sometimes that’s hard to do because we sometimes think of it as a signal that we’re uneducated, dumb, ignorant, etc. We don’t want to admit that, so we act as though we are familiar to everything and surprised by nothing. I have to call him out, but he knows I love him and always will. My dad can be an example of this principle. If I try to impress him with a fun fact, usually in vet med, he explains that he is already aware and attempts to question my reasoning. Now, I find it interesting though, because this could easily be a two-way street; I want to show my dad that I’m knowledgable by trying to out-smart him, thus being prideful of my own knowledge. And I have to admit, sometimes I’m as bad as he is—we fight and fight because neither of us wants to be wrong. But I think that there’s probably several factors that play into this situation—it’s not really that I want him to respect me for my knowledge, but it’s that I want to know that he’s proud of my mental growth. Like what we want God to say to us when he returns (Matthew 25:21): “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” So maybe it’s because of my pride that I strive for attention and acknowledgement. But is that pride? I’m not sure.
12. Do you play hard-to-get?—I believe when someone plays “hard-to-get”, they are indirectly telling himself/herself that they need to be “earned”. We view ourselves as valuable, wise, authoritative, or upper-class due to how much we earn, who we know, our experience, our sense of style, our background, etc. And the idea of people “working” to get us is appealing, because then we know we’re valuable. And in my opinion, we only need validation because we feel insecure. Think about it—if you’re playing hard-to-get (which, in my opinion, 90% of the time is unintentional behavior) and you’re turned down by someone, it throws you off—how do they not want you? What could they possibly not like about you? You question yourself and your character. And these questions could transcend into anger, frustration, sadness, or a rebound-like effect where you want them because they don’t want you (and possibly only want them because you want them to like you).
On a whim about insecurity, I’ve learned that I often get offended and therefore sensitive about subjects in which I’m insecure. For example, I’m easily offended if someone criticizes or jokes about my pet ownership abilities. If someone were to make a joke about how my dog doesn’t come when called, I immediately start to feel angry and defensive. In reality, I’m only upset because deep down I know that I’m not the best pet owner in the world, and I’m afraid how people will perceive me if they know I’m an aspiring veterinarian but failed to train a dog who ignores me when he darts for a squirrel. The antidote for this is being more confident in yourself, and asking God to remind you where you find your validation-- in humans or in Him? God gave me the dream and abilities to become a veterinarian for a reason. Just because people see an imperfect dog doesn’t mean that they see an imperfect vet.
But anyway, back to evidences 11 and 12. I realize that there are a lot of factors at play in these scenarios. These relationships involving pride aren’t black and white. But the point is that if I ever find myself exhibiting these 12 traits, I can learn to take a step back and humble myself before moving forward, and I hope you can too.
Before ending this discussion, I want to point out how we should address pride in others. Like #10 said, chances are you're reading this article and thinking of someone else who struggles with pride. If you're like me, you may even be contemplating ways to hint to that person how they can fix it as described in this article. But instead of pointing fingers, I invite you to consider yourself as the prideful one. That’s right, God forbid it’s you. Instead of trying to change others’ pride issues, attempt to first change your own (Matt 7:3 don't point at the spec in your neighbor's eye when you have a plank in your own). Because I could bet money that pride lurks in some aspect of your life. What's interesting, too, is that other people are more likely to change when they see it in action rather than being told. Again, I say this reminding not only to you but also myself!
Lastly, I want to end with some “words of humility” to refer to when you feel pride welling inside you. Personally, I’m going to be committing these to memory because I want a way out when catch myself showing off my vet knowledge or criticizing my little bro. Here are some easy phrases that will invite humility into our hearts and drive out pride:
- “Thank you”—in other words, “you helped me. I appreciate it.” You’re acknowledging someone else’s effort and the fact that you needed them in order to proceed.
- “Good job” (compliments) – you’re giving someone else the glory and acknowledging their achievement. You’re not glorifying yourself, you’re glorifying someone else. Because god forbid someone else do something, achieve something that was better than what we achieved.
- “Wow, I didn’t know that” (surprise)— Surprise signals to someone that we’ve learned something from them, and that we recognize their higher knowledge.
- “I’m sorry”—this is especially hard for someone who is prideful, because you’re admitting to defeat and the fact that instead of making an achievement, you messed up. (ex. “I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier, I was letting my anger get the best of me”). But this is a vital phrase to showing someone that we care more about them and their feelings than we do of our own.