In case you weren’t with us, in Part 1 of this series, I gave a background of my own struggles with pride as a backdrop to this study, In Part 2, we looked at two examples of prideful people – one obvious and one not so obvious, to set the stage for this post. In this third installment, we are going to look at various ways pride manifests itself in people. Some of these are fairly obvious, but others most of us would never guess that pride was at the center of it.
You might recall that I gave pride a new definition in the last post. I define pride as an inordinate amount of attention to self: Self-love: Making everything about oneself. You may say that this is what you always thought pride was, and I would ask you if you mean a prideful person can be the quiet shy type who avoids others because he/she has low self-esteem. Most of you would probably say that person is not prideful, but I see that they are very prideful – they have a lot of attention on self. So, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get started with Part 3.
I am going reference a book entitled “Irresistible to God”1 by Steve Gallagher several times in this post. Steve Gallagher is the founder of Pure Live Ministries (See Part 1), and has done an excellent study into the effects of pride on a person, among other great books he has written. All of his books are available on Amazon, and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to get more of this world out of their system. In “Irresistible to God,” Steve deals with pride, and how getting pride out of our lives helps us become like the title of the book.
The first thing you must recognize about pride is that if you have it, you will deny it. Gallagher writes “Pride is so extremely subtle that many actually think they have little or none of it within them. The truth is that it has the ability to mask its presence within a person’s heart. In fact, it is usually true that the more a person has, the less he is aware of it.”1 The problem we face is that not only is pride hidden within from the person afflicted by it, it is also a very dangerous trait to a Christian. Gallagher writes “Pride is the governing principle of hell and the unredeemed world it influences. It causes strife in the home, in the workplace, the political arena and yes, even the Christian community.”1 It becomes paramount to rid a person, especially a Christian, of any pride they might have.
I was a prime example of someone who had no idea pride was in my life. I should have known, because my wife kept telling me I was full of pride. No one else saw it, especially not me. Everyone else simply thought I was an outgoing guy who loved to chip in and help whenever I could, loved to be center stage whenever possible, and thought nothing of volunteering for special singing or filling the pulpit. But it was all me wanting attention – pride! Oh, how I wish I had listened to my wife those many years she told me pride was a problem. Heck, I thought I was humble – really!
Gallagher lists seven types of pride in his book. I will use these types to show the various ways pride can manifest itself in a person’s life, including a Christian. These seven types are: a haughty spirit, vanity, self-protection, unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride. The three I was most guilty of were know-it-all pride, spiritual pride and self-protection. As we go through these one by one, I urge you to take a hard look at yourself and see if anything fits. Remember that if you have pride, no one will ever be able to convince you that you have it. The Holy Spirit has to do that work in you. So, allow Him to search your heart as I discuss each of these types.
A Haughty Spirit – This is the type all of us would probably agree is pride. These folks think they are better than others. We see them a lot and recognize the pride in their lives. But the haughty spirit is not limited to that picture. Because of thinking they are better, a haughty spirit leads them to be judgmental and critical of others. Have you ever met a person who is always saying negative things about other people? They constantly find wrong in them and make sure everyone knows about it. Or they compare one person to another all the time, wondering why the one doesn’t shape up! This is all haughty spirit pride because it puts this person above others. “I am the best!”
Another way the haughty spirit can manifest itself is with long-time saints and new converts. The long-time saints see themselves as having gone through the fire, and just wish the new converts would get their act together and get rid of some of those little annoyances that plague them, like dressing the wrong way, or bad language, or smoking. The list goes on and on. Sorry all you long-time saints – to me this is one of the worst kinds of pride. Let God do that work on those new saints!
I was guilty of the first part of this, not the second. But it was subtle. I rarely would be judgmental of others to their face, but deep inside I did believe I was better than most. “I could have preached that message better.” “I do a better job leading worship”. “Don’t they know how to put a worship service together?” These are all things that would go through my head.
Vanity – We all know people who fit this category of pride. They do anything necessary to get approval from others. All they care about is being accepted, even if it means compromising on all their values. They so care about what others think that they might do drugs or wear a lot of make-up, or have sex, or go to this church or that church or dress a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way. They might join every committee in the church and work in the church like mad just to gain the acceptance of others. It’s all vanity, and it’s pride. “I have to be liked, whatever it takes.”
Another example of this which is affecting the church today is pastors and leaders who will not preach on certain subjects because they want to please the congregation and not step on any toes. They want everyone to like them, so they won’t challenge the people on issues like heaven and hell, or tithing or complete surrender to Jesus. They will stay away from social issues of the day. These pastors are vain, and pride is hurting the church.
Self-Protection – This person is extremely defensive and easily offended. You have to be really careful taking on any subject with them because they will always be on the defensive and before you know it they will get offended by something you say or do, and they will either be quiet or storm off. They are protecting themselves, and won’t let anybody get too close to them. Their protection comes first at any cost. “My needs first and I will defend them!”
Another manifestation of self-protection pride is sarcasm. People who constantly use sarcasm as a method of defense are all around us. I think of the TV show M.A.S.H. Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is a prime example of this kind of pride. Almost every word out of his mouth is sarcasm. I don’t know many people who are that bad, but I’d bet we all know people who use sarcasm to deflect difficult questions.
The way I used self-protection was as a defense mechanism. Whenever someone would try to correct me, or tell me I was doing wrong, I would put up a defense as good as any attorney. I rarely got offended, but often would offend the other people when this type of argument came up. And I was really good at sarcasm, still am today. I have to be very careful when I get into discussions that might get a little controversial, because my sarcasm often comes out faster than can catch it
Next Saturday, I’ll cover unapproachable pride, know-it-all pride, rebellion and spiritual pride, and talk about how know-it-all pride and spiritual pride manifested itself in me. I hope you’ll come back and visit for Part 4 in the Pride series. And thanks for reading and commenting.
1 Irresistible to God. Steve Gallagher. Copyright 2003 Pure Life Ministries