“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
I have a question for you: Are you prideful? Not the kind of pride that expresses itself through yelling yourself hoarse during the basketball game, or the kind that makes you proud of your sibling after they’ve just accomplished something meaningful. Not even the kind of pride that gives you that satisfied feeling after a long day of productive work. I’m talking about the kind of pride that makes you resent someone for butting in on your conversation with a friend, or the pride that looks down on the guy who doesn’t do something the same way you do. The pride that gives you the feeling you deserve something for accomplishing a task, or taking pride that you hang out with a certain group of people, and “that kid over there” doesn’t because they’re not too cool. That’s the pride I’m talking about, and the pride that will knock you right off that high horse.
I’m going to make a statement which is bold, but true: If you’re a living and breathing human, you’re going to struggle with pride. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but you will in the future. Especially if you’re a guy. For some reason, men have a massive issue with pride. Let me illustrate in simple terms. You know those Tom turkeys you see strutting around in the field, blown up like a balloon with their tail feathers in the air and prancing around like they own the world? They’re the bird equivalent of what guys tend to do – strut around, lording it over the other guys with what they know, wanting to look like they’re that much better than the ones around them. Pride is a major issue in life – we want people to like us (or at least think we’re cool), and often we believe the best way to draw their attention is to blab about what we know. Supposedly.
Since we know we will struggle with pride at some point, here are four actions we can take to discourage pride in our lives:
- Pray. Pray against pride. Pray that God will keep you humble through your successes and failures (face it – even when we fail we can tend toward pride. It’s just a messed up thing we tend to do as sinners). God wants us to bring our requests to him, not for His benefit, but for ours. In prayer, we become more aware of our weaknesses and His strength, and the fact that we alone are powerless to overcome that weakness. But when we petition Christ, seeking His grace and His strength, it is then that our failures can be overcome through Christ.
- Serve. Want to combat pride? Serve! Get out and help at food banks, deliver items to families in need, volunteer at the homeless shelter and the pregnancy care center – just SERVE! Pride only likes doing things that make me look good. When you serve, you’re putting the focus on others and contributing to their success. And while you serve, you’re giving time and resources, which can further starve pride. One note of caution: Check your motives. You can serve for your own benefit, just to grow people’s admiration of your “good character” and not to inhibit the growth of pride. Don’t serve so that people will see you – serve so that others will see Christ through your actions, and be pointed to him.
- Focus on others. This is similar to number two, but this point applies to all of life. Look around you – there are plenty of things that need to be done: take out the trash, unload the dishwasher, fold the clothes, help the little old lady across the street… the list goes on and on. This is not only an action step, but it’s really a mindset you must take. Observe how you can be of assistance to others, and then go do it! You may not feel like taking initiative, but as you begin doing it, your feelings will follow (“act your way into feeling” as my pastor says).
- Do it for God’s glory. What do I mean? Well, don’t do anything for your own personal gain. Phillipians 2:3 above challenges us not to do anything from “rivalry” or “conceit.” Before you do something, ask yourself “is this for the good of someone else (or God), or am I doing this so that others think more highly of me?” That question should help you draw out your motives, and bring to light why you do what you do.
Pride is something that I struggle with, and will continue to struggle with. You will too. The four steps above are not the key to conquering pride, but they will help in starving out pride in your life and replacing it with a mindset of “other centeredness”, which leads to humility – counting others more important than yourself.
- Why do you do what you do? What are your motives for your actions?
- What are some other ways you nourish humility and starve pride in your life?
- Find three things to do this week that demonstrate “other centeredness”, and then do them.
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