The last two types of pride hit at the very core of American Westernized Culture. We are taught to work hard (pride of achievement)–“you can be anything…you have it within yourself to conquer all that needs to be conquered.” We are also taught independence (pride of independent spirit)–“do not let anyone tell you what to do…stand up for yourself…you do not need anyone else.”3) Pride of Achievement
This pride of achievement looks to ourselves to work hard and attributes our success to ourselves and not God. Bridges questions if there is anything we have that we did not receive. God gave us our intellect, our skills and abilities, talents, health, opportunities. When we live thinking they are our own, we are in pride. He speaks about boasting in overtly proud ways and in subtle ways in which we want to be proud but not appear so. He does remind us from the Proverbs and other places that our diligent effort is required (he does not want us to be slothful), but that He gave us the stuff to succeed. It is a sin to not acknowledge the gracious blessings of God. He also talked about an inordinate desire for recognition. He asked several questions:
1. What is your attitude when you do a good job and do not get recognition?
2. Are you willing to labor in obscurity as unto the Lord?
Thinking about this takes me back to a conversation I had around the time of graduation from high school. I was in the Gondolier restaurant in Athens talking with my boyfriend, Ken. I had filled out a sheet in a Bible study of where I wanted to be in ten years and so on. This conversation haunts me because I felt so assured and righteous in what I said, and, yet, I was dripping with pride. I remember saying, “I do not know what I want to be doing, but I want people to look up to me and respect me greatly.” It makes me sick to think that I thought I was so genuine and godly in saying that. Gross. Yet, there are times when that same attitude wells up in me now. Am I willing to labor in obscurity for the Lord? Do I live as unto Him or men? (Galatians 1:10) Can I perservere without praise or recognition from man? I am one of those people who does what the boss says and gladly. A people pleaser at heart, I struggle when I get no feedback. That is definitely a place where I have to die to myself and live to Christ.
4) Pride of Independent Spirit
My Great Aunt Sarah was 4’10” tall and was one of the sassiest people I have ever known. I think I would rather meet Shaq in an argument than contend with her wrath! She never married, and she was very successful in her work. I do not think she ever said a negative thing about me—if you were in her clan, you were good to go. She used to talk about carrying your bat with you. In other words, you do whatever you want to do and let people know what you stand for and to get out of your way! I threw a few curve balls into family meals when I was in high school and college because I took the path of resistance more than the path of least resistance. Those pep talks from her encouraged me, but I can also see where I also mounted up in that independent spirit to say “who cares, I am going to do what I am going to do.” Sometimes that attitude can be used for strength to perservere when going against the crowd for the pursuit of Christ, but it can also be filled with sin.
The reality is that we need others, and God calls us to a life of dependence on Him instead of independence. Bridges calls out several ways that this pride rears its head–
1. a resistance to authority (spiritual authority)
2. an unteachable attitude
He uses examples of interns coming into the Navigators organization thinking that they know a lot better than people who have done it for a long time. I shrunk thinking of attitudes I have had.
God has set up systems of authority. He sees the reality of our hearts as to how we submit or buck authority. The way we treat the goverment or a boss or our parent speaks to the reality of our heart and trust toward God. EEEEK.
Another way we show pride is whether we are willing to be taught from His word or go from our own opinion above it. If we disagree and close our ears to things that make us uncomfortable in His word versus being willing to pray and grapple with it, we have shown pride in our hearts.
The temptation is to think about others when we look at this. We are so quick to point that finger…that reminds me of_______, or THEY really struggle with ______and need to read this. Our pride grows in that. Through reading this chapter, I have seen myriad places in my life where sin blossoms. I pray that we all look and ask God to search us and examine those places and refine us to His son’s character. It is scary, but it is so good. I simply am reminded that He is my Father and is faithful to me despite my pride. He takes it a step further to graciously grow me and remind me of His love and transforming power.