A few months ago (on two separate occasions), I was stunned when God revealed that I was being prideful. Pride is one of those sneaky sins that’s usually the root of a deeper issue (i.e. some people may act as if they’re superior to others but truly feel inadequate on the inside because of how others treated them in the past). I knew I was struggling with some things but never thought I was prideful. I used to think that pride was related to being arrogant but after doing some research via online searches and books, it turns out that the following behaviors are prideful:
- Thinking poorly of yourself—we usually develop a negative view of ourselves as a result of the negative comments people say to us, about us, or even what we silently tell ourselves. Other times our negative thoughts could stem from childhood abuse, being bullied, neglected, etc. In my case, God told me I was good enough, but there were times when I questioned my worth because of what someone else said. I’m learning that thinking negatively about yourself isn’t a form of humility (I never wanted people to think I was stuck-up or even appear that way) and you’re actually focusing on yourself too much (i.e. why did I say that? I really messed up!). Also, it’s like we’re telling God that He made a mistake when He created us. Isaiah 45:9 (NLT) says, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’”
- Wanting to be admired/praised—There were times when I’ve looked at others and felt like I didn’t measure up because they were more outgoing, liked by everyone, etc. Sometimes I struggle with feeling like an outcast because of my quiet, reserved personality and wish that I wasn’t seen as “strange” or “weird.” I’d daydream about saving someone’s life or doing something heroic and blushing whenever someone thanked me. Once again, this is putting the focus on ourselves; God is the only one who deserves our admiration and praise. We need to stop seeking validation from people who are flawed and inconsistent—they may praise you one minute but condemn you in the next. God is the only one who can validate us because He created us; He knows what we need. He’s also perfect, consistent, and isn’t wishy-washy—He won’t tell you that you’re capable and then condemn you. Jesus was considered to be an outcast and rejected by people as He performed miracles, told others about God, and challenged the behavior of those who believed they hadn’t sinned.
- Worrying About What Others Think/Being Offended—If I overheard people (i.e. coworkers) make negative comments about me, I would get irritated and angry because I felt like I was being lied on; I felt that no one would be on my side and would be on the perpetrator’s side since he/she was more popular. I wanted to defend myself but felt powerless to do so. Although my confidence had improved, there were times when I felt troubled and questioned myself as a person: “Does everyone see me like that? Am I this horrible person?” During these times, I had to pray for strength, vent my frustrations to God, and read His word. I have to remind myself to go to God whenever these behaviors emerge. I wonder what opportunities I missed because I was too concerned with how others viewed me?
- Unforgiveness—In the past, it was difficult to forgive those who I believed had wronged me (insulted me, talked about me behind my back, etc.). I hated them and couldn’t stand the sight of them. I was angry all the time but also angry at myself for allowing them to upset me. I used to think that forgiveness condoned the negative actions of the other person but that’s not the case. When you make the choice to forgive someone, you’re not allowing that anger and hatred to take root in your heart and consume you. Also, you’re not saying, “Hey, I forgive you. Come take my money/cheat on me/lie to me again!” Forgiveness allows you to have peace and move on with your life; you can distance yourself from someone and still forgive him/her. Practicing forgiveness isn’t always easy, which is why you must ask God to help you. We also have to remember that God forgives us for things that we do or say, so we should extend forgiveness to others.
If you’re struggling with these symptoms of pride, you’re not alone. Sometimes when we’re struggling with something, it can feel insurmountable. Nothing is impossible for God and He can help you with any problem that you’re facing. Ask God to forgive you, repent, and be open to change.