Tactics for dealing with pride:
[outline for one of the questions at the PBC Forum Class, July 29/2001…RealAudio for the class is posted at Part Ten (here) , and this topic is covered in roughly the LAST half of the audio…the outline itself won’t make much sense without the audio—if then (smile)]
The problem with self-pride is that it is a distancing attitude (e.g., elitist, superior)…whereas pride in others (and not in YOUR ‘contribution’ to their greatness…smile) is a bonding attitude.
1. The model of God: focus on the work (Gen 1.31) instead of the worker…”and God saw that it was good”
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Phil 4.8)
We ARE supposed to recognize quality, and to be honest about the excellence of craftsmanship—but these are directed at the object, not at the maker.
C.S. Lewis in the Screwtape Letters spoke of the architect who could build a cathedral and take abject delight in it—and have the same “pride” of the cathedral regardless of who designed it or build it…in other words, the pride was in the quality, excellence, and beauty of the results (not of those who built it per se).
2. Try the ‘we need to postpone this pride-party’ tactic:
“So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. [1 Cor 4, don’t let your bad-pride, self-estimates get in the way of His praise!]
When you feel a self-pride-party coming up, just tell yourself that you can celebrate later—there’s just too much stuff to get done right now…the longer you postpone it, the less likely it will occur ‘ahead of schedule’ (smile)
3. The model of Christ: focus on the interests/needs of others (higher priority than reflection on your excellence, appropriate or not) :
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
[Who has time to waste in a one-person pride-party?! There is so much goodness to be done, so much growth to be achieved, so much celebrating of grace to be done!]
4. Exult in the things of excellence, even if YOU are involved (smile):
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. (Gal 6.4)
“With, therefore, the third person singular future verb (“he will have”) and the contrast between (“in himself”) and (“in someone else”), the rationale for testing one’s own actions is so that “then” such a one “will have a basis for boasting in himself, and not by comparison with someone else.” The warning here is not to live as spiritual people in a state of pride or conceit, always comparing one’s own attainments to those of others and so feeling superior, but rather to test one’s own actions and so to minimize the possibility of self-deception. Christian feelings of exultation and congratulation should spring from one’s own actions as seen in the light of God’s approval and not derive from comparing oneself to what others are or are not doing.
This pride is in one’s self, as a sober reflection of actual work accomplished…it is the feelings of ‘I feel His good pleasure in this, and I exult’
5. Pride the warning signal:
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling (Prov 16.18)
[As soon as you feel it rising, and as soon as you know you’re headed for trouble, Isolate it and bring it up to Him!!!! Express your fears about falling into it—He grants help to us, when we really seek His way.]
6. Pride as joy/exultation in beauty and excellence is okay:
Whereas you[Jerusalem] have been forsaken and hated With no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, A joy from generation to generation. (IS 60.14f)
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. (Is 4.2)
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. 19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; (Is 65.18f)
7. Pride about others is something like non-embarrassment, non-shame at association—and builds community:
For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end; 14 just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. (2 Cor 1.13)
We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, that you may have an answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart. (2 Cor 5.12)
I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Cor 7.4)
The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ (Ob 3)
I don’t like being tricked by anything…I don’t like being made a fool of…I use this against ‘my old self’ when I can
9. “Pre-pride”: Don’t settle for such a ‘cheap reward’ for good effort and craftsmanship!!!:
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you….When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
[and don’t convert good works into one of these retro-actively “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. “ Prov 27.2]
[Try to avoid the subtle ‘fishing for compliments’…]
10. “convert” praise into something useful, not destructive!
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. (Prov 27.21)
[“thanks for the encouragement…can you think of something we should add to it? Someway to make it even better?]
11. Realize the streams of influence into your actions!
Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor 4.6ff)
[Things are meant to be “group products”—that’s why God is supposed to be a part of all YOU produce…]
[When I write something great, who all is involved? My sixth grade teacher? The authors I read? The editors I have worked with?
[“If you can read this, thank a teacher”
[Think how dishonest self-glory really is…a form of theft…
12. Point to the contribution of others:
[“One thing Joe taught me…”; ‘thanks Lord, for the influence of’]
13. The ‘need for pride’ may indicate some deep, pathological ‘need for a sense of significance’ and therefore indicate you are ‘sick’…so how legitimate is your pride, then?
14. NOTE: this is not about being dishonest…just being more complete in our assessment…and do not sell ‘growth’ short, remember…
[I personally don’t think focusing on our sinfulness is good approach to Christlike humility, since it could NOT have been Jesus’ approach…
[Just remember how you felt the first time you bragged about something, in front of a real expert—and were humiliated in the process…
[We are watched by God, and the angels, and quite possibly, the saints who have gone before us…
Encourage at every incremental improvement
But don’t stay too long at enjoying the beauty of your work…lest it become an idol and a snare…give thanks, and move on to the next work-of-grace and next project of beauty…move forward with God’s fresh work in history, don’t stand still and grow stale…