On two separate occasions people have confronted me directly about having a “pride problem.” The first was when I was still in High School by a youth leader who was concerned about me. She meant well, but I really had no capacity to understand what she was talking about or suggesting to me. Later, after college, a friend called me out on the same thing. By this time I was able to hear it, and although I don’t remember the specific examples he used, I accepted his assessment and allowed that to start to deal with the problem. Boy, my life improved as that process progressed. Pride makes you miserable because it blocks your ability to give and receive love. Pride can take many forms and everyone has some. Worldly education systems especially promote it. In my case, academic success and the associated praise really gave me an unbalanced view of my abilities. Here are some signs of pride from my experience:
- You think you have no pride — If you think you have no pride, you definitely have it. The Bible says Moses was “the most humble man on earth” at the time. Note, it does not say he had no pride. This suggests that even the most humble man had some pride. So if you don’t think you have any, that means you think you are really something. We all have pride. The question is whether you have a “pride problem.” Is your pride so significant that it’s creating dysfunction for you and those around you. I remember thinking when I heard people talk about pride, “Oh I don’t have a pride problem”
- You think you are humble — Some people are really proud of their humility. If you think to yourself “I’m humble” or especially if you tell others, there’s a pretty good liklihood you have pride.
- You have never heard anything new — When I had this pride problem, I never remembered when I found something out for the first time. It basically seemed to me as if most things I had always known. It sounds crazy, but I’ve seen other people with this same isssue. They never give you the feedback that says “Oh, I’ve never heard that.” A humble person knows when they have learned something new, and credits the person who introduced them to it.
- You are very self-aware — Pride is in many ways the opposite of love. The more you love, the less pride you have and the more pride you have, the less you love. One sign you are proud is that you are very conscious of yourself. The deeper you go in love with God, the less aware of yourself you are, and the more aware you are of others.
- You are always trying to be perfect — Perfectionism is often a pride issue. First of all perfectionism always ignores the praise of others. It exalts some internal opinion you have of your performance over everyone elses including God. Basically no matter what anyone says, you think nothing is good enough. If you think these things, it’s pride.
- You have an inordinate view of your own gifts and skills — I remember being 20 and thinking that I could run the church better than the pastor who had been at it almost as long as I had been alive. Regardless of my perceived level of gifting, I did not in any way account for how hard it is to build and run a large church, or the skills that must be developed over years, or acknowledgement of the pastor’s own significant gifts. I just noticed an area where he was weak and assumed I could do better in that area. Pride!
- You put others down a lot — A humble person knows that they themselves have many flaws and that that is ok. A prideful person feels the need to boost his or her self-esteem by putting down anyone else who shows talent in an area threatening to them. This goes hand in hand with low view of the gifts of others. You see others as less skilled or talented than they are. You have trouble admitting how talented they are. You criticize most people and praise very few.
- You feel you can only learn from someone with skills far beyond your own — Everybody is willing to learn from a recognized prodigy in the field. Everyone is willing to get counseling or training from the pastor himself. But do you hear it when friends give you advice? Could you get counseling from the associate pastor?
- You rarely apologize — An apology that also blames someone else doesn’t count. If you do not regularly find that you make mistakes and have to apologize for them, then you have a pride problem. Everyone makes mistakes, regularly. Hopefully small ones, but sometimes big ones. If you cannot own up to it, it’s often because your pride hurts too bad when you do.
- You only listen to people above you — While submitting to someone else often is a step of humility, some people are only outwardly submitted. Submitting to leaders is very beneficial to you. A real sign of humility is when people take corrective input from those around and below them. This doesn’t mean that submission should be reversed. It means that when someone raises a concern there doesn’t have to be rank involved for you to hear it.
- Praising yourself — If you feel the need to talk about own accomplishments a lot or your glory days, you have a pride problem. The Bible says that you should let your praises come from the lips of another man. There are times such as formal performance reviews when it’s appropriate to talk about your accomplishments, but generically talking about all of the great things you’ve done is prideful and people will get tired of it quickly.
- Loneliness — Pride makes you lonely because it blocks your ability to receive love from others. Being self-aware and self-promoting puts you primarily in relationship with yourself instead of others. Pride is a major cause of loniliness – either directly because you don’t receive the love given to you, or indirectly because people don’t like to be around you and you push them away.
- You think a lot of people are arrogant or prideful — Ironic as it sounds, if you are going around labeling people as “arrogant” there is a pretty high liklihood you yourself are. If you know somoene else with a pride problem a mile away, it’s also a pretty good indictor you have pride because there is only room in a room for one prideful person 😉
- You’ve never dealt with pride openly — If you have never recognized pride in yourself and dealt with it before God at the minimum, and hopefully with others, or if when people say “Pride” you think “oh I doubt that’s me”, you should at least examine yourself more closely before the Lord to make sure nothing is hiding.
When you start to move against pride, you’ll feel a strange sensation kind of like being humiliated. But after a few times, you get used to it, and pretty soon you don’t mind things that would have really embarrassed you before because you realize you are just a person like about 6 billion other people.