Battling Pride

by Allen Knippers

Why do I always want the recognition for a job well done? Is it that I crave affirmation that I have been faithful? Or am I looking to feel good about myself or boost my identity in some way? At what point should I simply rest and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done and not need the praise of others to affirm me?

At the root of each of these questions is my internal battle with pride. In these moments I’m reminded of the famous Proverb:

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV).

Confidence can be a healthy thing, but it’s easy to drift from confidence to pride. And pride will destroy marriages, friendships and careers.

At work, I have a constant desire to hear words of affirmation from my bosses. At home, I desire to hear praises from my wife about things I've accomplished. And I don't think these are bad desires to have (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11 for example). 

However, when this desire for encouragement leads me to brag about myself to get approval from others, then what was an appropriate desire for encouragement has transitioned into a sinful form of pride. And it’s often a subtle and nuanced temptation.

Like when I start talking about a situation where I feel like I deserve praise around other people with the underlying hope that they’ll respond by giving me the praise that I desire to fuel my identity and my pride. 

I hate it.

I want to be the guy that quietly navigates behind the scenes working and serving others with no desire for recognition (Proverbs 27:2). I want pride completely rooted out so that when I boast, I boast in the Lord for the talents and abilities he has blessed me with, and that I look to Christ for my ultimate approval, acceptance and identity.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18, ESV)

As we seek to uproot pride from our lives here are a few battle strategies:
1. Pray for God to begin to reveal the areas in your life where you are walking in pride. 
2. Confess your pride issues with others. Do not walk in this alone (Proverbs 18:1). Let your accountability group and/or your spouse walk with you. 
3. Give a few brothers and sisters authority to speak the hard truths in your life, to call out areas of pride in your daily life that you may overlook because of our tendency to have blind spots in our lives. 
4. Do not rest in your own strength to fight this war against pride. Ask the God of the universe to go to war on your behalf and rip pride out of your life. 
Pride probably affects each of us in some way. So we all must pray, confess, and trust God to work powerfully in our lives. Let all that we are and everything that we do shout to the world that we reject our own sinful pride and that we will boast in God alone.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV)