“Everyone, look at me! I did a thing!”
That’s what many of us may often think or even say when we want people to pay attention to our accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong—I believe it’s okay to acknowledge when you’ve done something halfway decent. After all, it certainly isn’t helpful to tear yourself down when you’re doing your best. But attracting others’ attention to your own strengths or talents often leads to pride. And what follows pride?
We’ll go over 5 ways you can avoid the pitfall of pride in your walk with God. Today’s post is inspired by and taken from notes to a lesson by Tony Wyatt Jr, an associate pastor and the young adult leader at my church. (You can check out a full guest post by Bro. Tony on spiritual food for the soul through this link.)
1. Seek God in the good AND the bad.
“Lord, I need you,” is easy to say when things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to run to God when life is falling apart.
Now, I’ll admit it. I’ve certainly struggled with maintaining consistent, quality prayer time and Bible reading when things were going great. You may know how it is. You don’t have a pressing, dire need at the moment aside from the usual future goals and desires. You start to get a little distracted. Your prayer times don’t seem as fervent as they were just a few months ago. You’re reading fewer chapters of the Bible a day. Maybe you’re even going a day or two in a row without really connecting with God.
Whether it’s your job, school, kids, or other responsibilities, life tends to find extra things to distract us with when the status quo is pretty manageable. But the less we pray and study the Word, the more we’re almost telling God, “Eh, I got this for now.”
Cue narrator voice: “She did not have this for now.”
It seems as though many of us may feel we need God less in the good times. We run to God when the going gets tough, but when things are looking up, we prefer to rely on ourselves.
You see, those bad moments will test our faith and hopefully strengthen it, but those good moments will prove our resolve to have a strong relationship with God. When you seek Him in the good times as well, you’re showing God that you understand you still need Him and that you WANT more of Him. If you find yourself in a rut because things are pretty peachy, and you’re getting distracted, choose a time of day when you can give God your full attention and seek Him harder than before. Continue to fast, continue to pray, continue to study the Word, and God will take you deeper than before.
2. Let go of your desire to prove yourself.
Pride often develops through the desire to prove to yourself and others what you can do. When we focus on proving our talents or accomplishments to others, we’re obsessing over our abilities.
“I can do it. Just watch me. Look what I can do. Just wait. They’ll see.”
We don’t have to prove ourselves to others. The only one we should truly seek to please is God.
Jesus was literally God wrapped in the flesh, but he approached others, especially those who argued against him, not with a prideful attitude but with a meek and gentle spirit.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it now robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:Philippians 2:5-7 (KJV)
Jesus made himself like a servant, and so we should follow His lead. Instead of trying to prove yourself to others, focus on serving others and pleasing God.
3. Don’t boast about your accomplishments.
This one takes us back to the opening of this post. Boasting about what you can do emphasizes the self.
It’s all about me. Look how talented I am. Susie can’t sing like I can. Bobby isn’t as smart as I am. I’m leagues above them. Pay attention to me!
Here’s a good thing to practice each time you accomplish something or improve a skill: tell yourself, “It’s because of God that I could do this. It’s His power and ability, not mine.”
When I was in college, every time I passed a test that I was terrified I’d fail, I knew it was God who got me through it. Trust me. I took an advanced Spanish class as part of my degree requirements, and while I can speak baby Spanish, I couldn’t speak it fluently to save my life. The final was a ten-minute, one-on-one conversation with my Spanish professor. To this day, I have no idea what I said during that conversation, and I have no idea how I passed with flying colors. I’ve joked that it’s because my professor must have taken pity on me, but truly, I know it was God.
Every good thing you do, every accomplishment, every skill you earn, remember that it’s because of God that you can do those things. In a culture that is all about the self, be the one that makes it about Jesus. Be the one that boasts of His power and accomplishments.
You may have a lot of talent and great achievements, and it’s okay to be pleased with a job well done, but remember this: God is the one who blessed you with your accomplishments and abilities.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:1 Peter 1:5 (KJV)
4. Put others before yourself.
You should also be the one who puts others before yourself. This society loves the term “self-love.” Now, it’s true that you can’t truly love and help others if you hate yourself. However, people tend to go overboard with the self-love concept nowadays.
“I need that $500 spa treatment. The kids can go without a few essentials this month. It’s my time.”
Remember the old saying you might have learned in Sunday school? J – O – Y.
Put Jesus first. Put others second. Then comes you.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2 (KJV)
Jesus’ ministry was all about helping others, healing the sick, showing mercy, and loving the needy. And that is what the church should be all about—reflecting the character of Christ, pointing people toward Him.
Pride is all about putting yourself first. True love is all about putting others first.
5. Be happy with what God gives you.
Finally, you do need to be content with what God has given you. Now, don’t mistake complacency as the same thing as contentment. I believe complacency and a lack of drive or willingness also bring about destruction as pride does, but contentment is about accepting what you have and finding ways to be pleased with it. (Side note: that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to be better or improve the skills God has given you.)
A prideful spirit boasts as though the things you have are because of your abilities, but it isn’t just that God is the one who has given you skills and abilities, He’s also the one who has blessed you with a home, food, clothes, and a job and provided for all your needs. And if you have such a need, He is the one who can fulfill it.
Matthew 8:20 shows us that Jesus didn’t even have a house or place to stay every night, but he was content: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
Paul wrote of his contentment even when he was imprisoned in Philippians 4:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Philippians 4:11-13 (KJV)
In verse 13, Paul hit at the key to avoid being prideful. I can do all things through Christ. Many people think of this verse as referring to just accomplishments or skills when Paul says, “I can do all things.” Sure, it does apply to those things, but Bro. Tony made the connection here between this statement and Paul’s circumstances when he taught this lesson recently.
Paul was able to endure his circumstances through Christ. It’s through Him that we can do all things, meaning we can endure hardship, overcome trials, experience loss, pain, disappointment, and heartbreak, and still trust in God, be content with what He’s given us, and finish the race strong through Christ who is our strength.
We don’t have the ability on our own to achieve great things. We don’t even have the ability to endure difficult times on our own and come through them stronger and wiser. It’s His Spirit within us that gives us that ability.
So, what’s the key to avoid being prideful?
Practice giving everything back to God—the praise, the glory, the credit.
He, not you, deserves it all.