I anticipate that this post will be very difficult for me to write. The reason is that this topic encompasses what I believe is my biggest flaw in personal character. And I suspect that it is a flaw for many others as well. That topic is pride.
Having pride can be a good thing. A team can be proud of a championship that they won, and the effort that was required to get to that championship level. Someone can be proud of a talent that they possess and have joy in using.
However, issues arise for people who are prideful – full of pride. People who are prideful have their thoughts, attitudes, and actions controlled by an inflated image of themselves. A good way to explain the effects of a prideful lifestyle is to first discuss humility.
A humble attitude can be considered the opposite of a prideful one. I used to think that humility meant that you verbally downplay the abilities and achievements that you have. So when someone asks an all-conference high school basketball player if they are good at basketball, a humble response would be “ah, not really. I’m alright”. I considered myself to be humble because I would commonly make statements similar to this one.
However, I no longer think that is what humility actually is. Those types of statements seem to be more of an example of dishonesty, where you are simply lying about an aspect of yourself. Humility should instead coincide with truth. So instead of a downplay of your abilities, humility is more of an acceptance and the honesty of who you are as a human being. Not just one talent. Not certain things you like about yourself. The entirety of yourself.
If you say that you are good at basketball, that statement can be out of humility if it is actually true. Of course, there is a difference between that example and the example of you go around and telling everyone you see, “I’m really good at basketball. I have, like, NBA-caliber skill. You should see me play!” That type of action would indicate a prideful attitude. But the point is, you saying that you have a particular strength or talent does not automatically imply that you are not being humble.
Pride, when taken too far, can result in a certain kind of dishonesty. If you are prideful, you have an inflated view of yourself that does not match the reality of who you are. This inflation could come through an extremely high view of the things that you consider are good about yourself, or a hiding of the things you consider bad about yourself.
If you have pride to this extent, there are at least two harmful tendencies that result. The first is that you only show people things that you think they would consider “good” about yourself, and hide the things you think they would consider “bad”. Contrary to humility, this is an example of dishonesty about who you are as a human being.
As humans, we all have strengths, weaknesses, talents, and flaws. Your pride can result in the rejection of that idea by downplaying those weaknesses and flaws, and inflating the strengths and talents. You do not reveal a large part of your identity to people, so they never get even close to a full idea of who you actually are.
Another tendency is thinking of yourself at a level above others. This tendency occurs by separating particular qualities that you possess or things that you do, considering them to be the best, and thinking that if someone else has different qualities or does different things, they are doing things the wrong way. I am not saying that people never do things that are wrong, but a prideful person almost always considers differences to be wrong, even if the differences are insignificant.
This tendency causes a problem because it results in separating the attributes of someone else from that person himself. Instead of accepting everything about a person, you bring certain attributes to the forefront and judge the person based on those few things.
This judgment seems to strip the overall value of an individual, as only particular things about a person are considered, while everything else is blocked out. Human value becomes based on doing things the “right” way in comparison to you, having an appearance that satisfies a certain standard you have, enjoying the same things you do, and so on.
The Christian worldview paints a much different picture than what I just explained. Instead of human value being based on a few action or traits, human value is based on God’s creation of each individual as an entire human being. God’s glory is shown in each person’s strengths, weaknesses, talents, flaws, everything about them.
And the amazing thing is, God loves you completely even though you have both the good and the bad. This idea is expressed in the book of Romans in the Bible, where the apostle Paul wrote,
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
God loves you because you are valuable as a human being, not just because you do certain things the right way by his standard or have a few qualities that he considers good. He loves you even though you are a sinner, or in other words, you do wrong things by God’s standard. He does not focus on one bad thing you do and block the rest out; God considers everything about you and chooses to love you.
Whether you accept the truth of the Christian worldview or not, this idea of considering the entire value of a person is more honest and admirable than the result of pride, where a person’s value is based on a comparison of a few factors. Still, many people have this tendency to be prideful, which results in a dishonest view of themselves and other people.