When I’m being really good, I start my day with some devotion time. I’m so ADD that this is often hard. While reading scripture, or a devotional book, or trying to pray, I am the proverbial dog cartoon (the movie “UP”) with the thought bubble “Squirrel!” or “Butterfly!” It takes major effort for me to just sit still and be. And now that I have a lovely back deck, with a seemingly ideal cathedral of tall, green trees, the distractions of creation such as deer and beautiful birds (and squirrels!) often interfere with my focus on prayer and devotion. Sure, it’s great to praise God for his creation, but a time for everything.
I’ve been making my way through a book by Beth Moore (Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds), one of my favorite women’s writers/speakers. Beth Moore isn’t for everyone, and I’ll admit that having done several of her video-based Bible Studies her cheerful cuteness sometimes was a little overwhelming. But I believe she is real, sincere, and listens to God’s voice as she pens her books, blogs, studies, and lessons. Even if I didn’t complete all my homework, I personally walk away from every encounter with her spiritually enriched, and with a deepened walk with the Lord.
The most recent chapter I’ve read was “Overcoming Pride.” It hit home, and it showed me some things about myself that I perhaps had preferred not to see.
Beth starts out with saying “In some ways, Christians have to be more alert to pride than anyone. If we don’t presently have an issue that is actively humbling us, we veer with disturbing velocity toward arrogance and self-righteousness.”
Someone once responded to her presentation on pride saying, “I have far too little self-esteem to have pride.” She goes on to say that “pride is not the opposite of low self-esteem. Pride is the opposite of low humility. We can have a serious pride problem that masquerades as low self-esteem. Pride is self-absorption whether we’re absorbed with how miserable we are or how wonderful we are.”
I personally think the greatest challenge that insecure people face is overcoming pride. That perhaps sounds oxymoronic—but I’m considering it a heart issue, and a faith issue. If you were raised as I was, with one parent who was an insecure bully out to prove himself (even among children), you catch a lot of bad lessons. Your own self-esteem takes a hit, but once you leave home you can spend the rest of your life trying to prove you’re worthwhile. Insecure people are sometimes overachievers. We try to compensate in so many ways: becoming learned or knowledgeable; well-traveled; indispensable servants. We can turn blessings and achievements into shields—or are they weapons? We try to “prove” our worth by our works, wealth, or superior knowledge. We dare people to say we are unworthy. Our woundedness leads to a sin of pride. Basically, Satan uses a hurt or a weakness to justify our pride, and tempt us to view ourselves not as perfectly loved by God, but defined by our achievements. And we completely miss (or discount) our worth in God’s eyes, and that we are to walk humbly with our God.
Pride is Satan’s specialty. God hates pride.
In my marriage, I know my sin of pride has caused a lot of pain and dissent. It’s caused me to believe I was better, smarter, and “more” right. It has caused me to be self-righteous, even critical at times. I’ve been prideful about my abilities and knowledge, and not considered the value of his point of view, abilities, and knowledge. I need to ask God to forgive me for so often considering myself better than others. I need to beware of spiritual ambition (doing God’s work for human recognition) and continuously ask God to help me have a humble disposition.
One area I am working on: Hubby makes a suggestion for a plan. I possibly have (a) mentioned it, or b) already thought the same thing. Now, I can choose my response and tone. All too frequently my prideful response is, “I already told you that (i.e., weren’t you listening?);” “I already thought of that;” or worse, “Isn’t that obvious? (verbalized or thought).” Bam. I’ve “boosted” my self-esteem, and slammed his down. I pray for the humility to change this arrogance, and respond in love and affirmation: “What a wonderful idea!” “That’s a good plan!” “I like that plan;” or “I’m so glad you thought of that, thank you!” Who cares who got “credit” for an idea or a thought? Can’t I be happy we think so alike?
Another notorious habit of some women is to tell their men where to park. This may seem such a small thing, but my hubby abhors this (yours probably does too). Somewhere deep inside a prideful voice is saying “Hey, I saw a GREAT parking spot, and YOU (ineptly) missed it!” Wait—that prideful voice really isn’t “deep inside.” It’s apparent by my mere suggestion that my adult husband isn’t capable of finding a decent parking spot. So what if we have to walk a few extra steps? Good exercise! And, he is faithfully a gentleman about dropping me at the door whenever weather is inclement.
The format of Moore’s book is one of praying scriptures. Here are a few of the many that I need to hide in my heart and pray daily:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
“You oppose the proud but give grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.” Philippians 2:3
“Help me not to be the kind of person who goes into great detail about what he has seen, and whose unspiritual mind puffs her up with idle notions.” Colossians 2:18
“Clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12
In Your Word, You define “who is wise and understanding among us: The one who shows it by her good life, by deeds done in the humility, that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
Is there an issue in your life that is actively humbling you? Is your lack of humility causing you to veer with disturbing velocity toward arrogance and self-righteousness?
Be glad for teachable moments, and pray for humility.