When Pride Gets in the Way
It’s no secret that pride is an undesirable trait. As children and adolescents, we are taught the importance of humility and reminded what arrogance can do to our hearts and minds. Yes, pride goes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18) — this we’ve been told time and again.
But pride affects more than the individual, reaching far and wide to those in our circle of influence. This is never more evident than when we hold positions of leadership.
It takes hard work and great effort to lead a team, no matter the size. Heart and soul are poured into causes worthy of our time and dedication, almost always with the best of intentions. But something happens when we succeed, when we accomplish something great — we feel good about ourselves. Really, really good. Wow! All the time and effort were worth it. Look what I achieved! Though there is nothing inherently wrong with satisfaction from a job well done, we foster false pride when we fail to recognize the One truly behind our success.
Every leader has one thing in common—followers. Whether leading two or 200, someone must be convinced of the mission you are working toward and be willing to come alongside you in it. These are the people most directly impacted when we don’t keep a watchful eye on our prideful instincts — something Paul would call “the sin which so easily entangles us” (Heb. 12:1, NASB).
Often, without ever realizing it, these people are pushed aside when we become driven by positive feedback alone. We thirst and hunger for more, always craving the next bit of praise or the words that tell us we’ve done well. We’re motivated upward — to do more, be more, and accomplish more — and in doing so, we push aside those we’ve been called to lead, making our work increasingly me-centered. We convince ourselves that though “the others” play a part in what we are doing, as the one in charge, it is I who must look good in the end. After all, I am the one people are depending on, right? I am the one they look to—the face of all this time and effort.
So as leaders, where do we turn? What do we do? How are we to ensure that pride, haughtiness, and arrogance don’t become the characteristics that define us? As sinful beings serving a sinless and perfect Creator, this is a battle we will always fight. Awareness of our bent toward pridefulness is key in safeguarding ourselves. We must know the ways we are prone to fall and ask others to keep us accountable. And when they point out areas where we lack humility, we have to receive their words with grace, asking the Father to strengthen us through our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9).
When called to do something for the furtherance of God’s kingdom, may we always remember where the focus should remain. False pride tells us that we are working for God, even when our hearts and minds are craving the praise of men. Never rely on your personal opinions, thoughts, or instincts—after all, isn’t it Him you want to please? In all we do and say, may He alone receive the “blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).