“Will I ever keep my mouth shut?!” I have thought after regretting an argument at an event
with friends. The truth is, the problem was not my mouth, but my heart that was speaking. John Maxwell says pride is the reason for ALL conflict. The Bible says it comes before the fall. Pride develops through the way we view ourselves and will affect the number of relationship conflicts we have this Christmas season, and in life. In these next few letters, I hope to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, while we enjoy laughing (or gasping!) at stories of my prideful past, learn to diagnose an ego problem, and get to the HEART of the matter. “Peace on Earth,” begins with pride-under-construction, so let us aim for a Christ-full Christmas leading to Christ-full lives.
Kids say the darndest things! They tell the unmasked truth at times, like when my then 6-yr-old said, “Sometimes I feel like my friends aren’t listening to me. It’s like they are quiet when I talk, but they are only thinking of what they are going to say next.”
Toby Keith’s song makes me smile every time I hear it: “Wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one, oh my me my!” In the song, he’s talking about a girl he is dating who talks so much about herself, he never gets a chance to say anything.
I really don’t even remember dating Toby Keith, but the song describes me (at least the “old me”) so well! I even had a “gramma down in Alabama!” (the song states).
“Pride” is defined as: a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements (or children’s achievements or possessions), according to the dictionary. However, a Christian definition may be: Full of self, and therefore no room in the vessel to be full of God. Proverbs 11:2 says that with the humble comes wisdom. Too often, we walk around, so “unwise.”
Like a skirt accidentally tucked into nylons, revealing a woman’s undergarments for an entire wedding reception dance, pride is a sin that is evident to all those around, but seemingly hidden from the bearer. I have heard that “EGO” stands for “Edging God Out,” but when I first was figuring out my own pride problem, I loved God, and really, I figured I loved God more than most did, so I was safe from any ego issues. Ha! There was that pride again.
Pride destroys teams.
Whether it’s a business team, a church team, a marriage or a family, pride is a cancer that will starve the body. However, a problem cannot be solved until it is properly defined, and a prideful person, it seems, cannot see his own sin. “That’s about others, because I don’t feel good about myself,” I can remember thinking EVERY time I heard the word. This is where the reader is cautioned: we may be talking about YOU and you don’t know it! (Just kidding! We all know we are talking about the ones who would never read this letter!) All I know is that I am talking about me. As I said in another letter, (Turkey Tastes Better without Lilypads) pride is an addiction from which I am always recovering.
I often hear people say that they have low self-esteem, and not high self-esteem, and so therefore this problem is not applicable to them. Ironically, when I collected the following symptoms of pride, and subsequently compared them to the symptoms of low self-esteem from the book, Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem (Rainey), I couldn’t believe the irony that many of the symptoms were identical.
“How is that possible?!” you may ask. “Aren’t low self-esteem and high self-esteem opposites?”
In the middle of each description is the answer: “self.”
Whether it is “low-self” or “high-self,” when we esteem ourselves as anything other than God-esteemed, we are doomed to live lives of conflict.
That leads me to the first symptom of pride: talking about yourself.
I can change ANY subject back to me, and I used to think it was quite a talent! Imagine my conversations:
Her: “We moved here from Colorado.”
Me: “I have family in Colorado.”
Her: “My child is really struggling in math.”
Me: “Oh that’s funny; my son is acing math!”
Her: “I had such a rough day today.”
Me: “Oh I know; I hate Mondays.”
I HATE to think of myself having these conversations. How much could the Lord have done through me if instead I had been interested in the others’ words? How the math student’s mom could have been encouraged by words about HER not ME! Maybe the “rough day” was looking for truly caring words: “I’m sorry to hear that! How can I help?” What if the one from Colorado was only wishing for someone to know that she was new to the area?
Pride. It leads to relationship conflict and edges God out.
So what now? What if as we read the symptoms through the next letters, we identify an issue with pride, what next? Don’t despair! God is bigger than the pride boogie man. Identifying the problem is half of the solution.
Ironically, I feel VERY confident writing about pride but not qualified to write about humility – which is the only solution. Reading CJ Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness gives the reader great perspective.
However, for this first symptom (talking too much about oneself) the practical answer is obvious:
- Talk less about yourself. Some will read this and think I am saying that we should NEVER talk about ourselves; however, it is truly a matter of the heart. Are we listening to others? Are we caring about others? Or are we pushing opinions, experiences and ourselves on others, trying to uplift ourselves?
- Pray. Well …maybe that should have been #1. Since pride seems to be the king of invisible sins (Invisible only to the beholder, visible to all others…), we must ask God to open our eyes to where we are blind.
- Think more of others than of yourself. C. S. Lewis said, “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis
My husband says that a man doesn’t marry a woman for her body, her brains, or any other of “her” self. He says he marries her because of how she makes him feel. It is the same in business relationships, friendships and marriages alike: In relationships, our goal should NOT then be to make others think highly of us, but our goal should be to make them think highly of themselves, or better yet, think highly of our God when they are around us.
The most important commandment is to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind; and the second one is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-40. To truly love God, we will love His people. We will care about them, and listen to them.
May we use our ears twice as much as our mouths today!
“Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.” –James 1:19
Recommended reading: Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis Rainey
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