Sunday Reflections – Developing Character to Eliminate & Prevent Pride

Ancient Edom – Photo courtesy of Atlantic Baptist University

Pride is a tough topic. It’s seems so easy to see in others but difficult to identify in yourself. Certainly, projecting and magnifying pride is easy to do. After all, if pride seems bigger in others, maybe it won’t be so noticeable in me.

My personal struggle with pride currently lies mostly with my reputation. What others think of me as a writer, mother, wife & teacher matters a lot to me. Too much. With that lens only do I look at pride today, a mirror not a magnifying glass.

Many stories in the Bible illustrate the truth that “pride comes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). The story of the Edomites is one such example, giving a full picture of pride’s destruction. (See the full story in the book of Obadiah.) The Edomites’ security, prosperity, popularity, education, arrogance and sense of entitlement led to pride that eventually became their downfall. This story fully illustrates that pride eventually results in consequences that grow ever more severe as pride grows.

As I seek to focus on pleasing God rather than pleasing man in my efforts to address pride in my own life, I first look at why eliminating pride from this and every area of my life is so important.

  1. Pride leads to shame. (Proverbs 11:2)
  2. Pride leads to arguments. (Proverbs 13:10)
  3. Pride cuts us off from God and others. (Luke 18:9-14)
  4. God does not reveal Himself to the proud. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
  5. Pride is incompatible with the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-26)

When I consider my current struggle with pride, specific examples of these points proving true readily come to mind. Shame. Disunity. Disconnection. Separation. Lack of direction. Not only do I hate feeling these things, I am even more aware of how my pride has displeased God. It occurs to me that the only way to eliminate and even prevent pride in my life exists through developing my character into one that pleases Christ.

For this reason, focusing on character over reputation must be a priority. Yes, reputation is important, and we should seek to have a good one (Colossians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 8:18-24). But character provides the foundation on which a solid reputation is built. Focusing only on reputation takes my eyes off Christ.

How can I develop my character in a way that eliminates & prevents pride?

  1. Learn endurance. Endurance strengthens character, which increases confidence in Christ. (Romans 5:3-4)
  2. Grow in the knowledge of God. As I know Jesus more, I receive His glory and goodness. This allows me “everything [I] need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3-11)
  3. Fix my thoughts. Routinely consider the role of my thought life and the necessity of being controlled by the Holy Spirit. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Guard my heart. Several places in scripture, including A Father’s Wise Advice in Proverbs 4, instruct me to guard my heart above all else.
  5. Choose my company wisely. Avoid letting my relationships lead me away from Christ or corrupt my character. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

As my character develops through the process of sanctification, areas of pride continually come to light. My goal lies with addressing pride in its infancy, which means my confidence must not lie with myself but with God who is the source of all that I am and have. I must continually see pride as the poison that it is, and I must realize my responsibility for caring about others. Following Christ’s example to “love one another” as He loved me (John 15:12-14) provides the only real hope for keeping pride at bay.

DISCUSSION: Talking about one’s pride can be very difficult. Please share any reflections, lessons or additional thoughts you may have on this topic.

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8 Replies to “Sunday Reflections – Developing Character to Eliminate & Prevent Pride”

  1. I think that being thankful is something that helps to fight against pride. Being thankful makes us see reality better and therefore helps us realize that things that we tend to be proud over are blessings and not a result of how great we are.

    I also think being Proud makes us more prone to failing because we let our guard down when we are rolling in the pride.

    I was wondering if taking things for granted is also a form of pride in the sense that we think we deserve whatever it is we take for granted?

    1. Once again, Mark, you challenge my thinking. Being thankful definitely can help prevent pride. I think it goes two ways though. First, when we are thankful, we focus on His blessings and not on ourselves. Second, when we are thankful, others feel appreciated and don't have to puff themselves up and they also realize that we see God working in them. Also, it seems like we can't put on the full armor of God when we are holding on to pride, does it? I think taking things for granted absolutely has a great deal to do with pride. Look at the Edomites. They took their security for granted, and they fell hard. Great thoughts Mark!

  2. Pride, insecurity, fear of failure – these are all things i struggle with as a writer. It's the thing I renew my mind about the most these days. Writing is dangerous for me because it's so easy to slip into the wrong motives – for some reason I don't struggle with this when I teach, but I do when I write. I've actually been doing the Bible study at my blog with my own writing issues in mind. God keeps teaching me, but I don't live in victory yet. You gave great advice on your post – I wrote down some of the Bible verses to check out!

    1. I understand where you are coming from. As I said in the post, my main challenge in this area is with what others think of me (really, it's the whole social realm for me). I think victory comes in small steps, meaning we can have small victories along the way. I've had to change my thinking to this instead of thinking victory only means that I never have a problem with something anymore. Love what scripture has to say on the topic and the guidance it gives. It's the only solution I know of that works!

  3. I agree with the small step part. My past experience with other renewing of the mind projects is that it takes forever but eventually I reach the point where I don't struggle with the sin or emotion nearly as often and my first impulse is to go to God rather than to whatever I was going to before. The key is to keep pursuing God at the beginning and in the middle so I make it to the end!

    1. One of the biggest life lessons I've learned in the past two years is the impact of small changes/steps that over time add up to make a huge different. Changed my life. The process you describe is the one i consider to be true victory in life… the sanctification process. Constant and persistent pursuing of God is the answer for sure.

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