My buddy Gary asked me not long ago how I feel about pride. I’ve avoided broaching the subject because I know that no matter how I approach it, I’m afraid I’m going to sound hypocritical because honestly, I’ve struggled with pride in many aspects of my life. We are all human and pride is, in my mind, one of the most destructive behaviors known to man.
How do you avoid pride in your heart when you are raised in a society that flaunts it? How do you steer clear of pride when you’re surrounded by slogans, advertisements, products and people who revel in it through speech, dress and mannerisms? How do you teach your kids that its okay to be confident, but you’re crossing the line when you begin to demonstrate arrogance?
Some say that its not a bad thing to be proud of your children’s accomplishments. But what happens when your pride takes on an all-encompassing feeling of superiority?
Suddenly, your compliments go from, ‘Oh Junior is so good at scoring goals,’ to ‘Oh my goodness, those other kids should know by now that they can’t score goals like Junior does!’ It is a gradual evolution from parental, spousal and sometimes self praise to being downright condescending and patronizing.
Ezra Taft Benson said the following about pride: “Pride is essentially competitive in nature. Pride pits our will against God and our fellow man….When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment.’
‘Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.”
Yeah, pretty heavy stuff. And it gets even heavier when you consider that when we allow pride to rule our thoughts and actions, we essentially give up our ability to wield any power over any aspect of our life. Believe me, I’m a case study in pride.
Benson goes on to talk about the Faces of Pride and he eloquently lays out the major components of pride that prevent us from enjoying a life free of grudges, hurt feelings, divisive speech and more as well as references to how we can be more humble and avoid the pitfalls of pride.
When dealing with a subject as volatile as pride I tend to veer away from using examples I’ve seen or heard of and stick to the examples of pride that I’ve seen or felt in myself.
I recall a certain time in life not long ago when I unwittingly destroyed every single relationship I had with everyone I could because of my own selfish pride. I alienated Super Mom, my sons, my parents, siblings, extended family, close friends and work colleagues. Hell I even made the guy bagging groceries and the Girl Scouts selling me Samoas and Thin Mints feel like crap because I wanted everyone to feel just like me – miserable.
It has been a long, hard road but slowly, year after year, I’m doing my best to mend broken hearts and feelings by humbling myself before the people that I hurt with my misguided and stupid pride. I’m sad to say that there are still some relationships that I may never be able to fix and though I’ve come to terms with those losses it doesn’t hurt any less.
What can we do to avoid the mess caused by pride? By exercising humility and by identifying and avoiding the destructive nature of pride. How can we prevent our kids from being boastful and showing pride? In the exact same way – Live a humble life and pray that your kids emulate your example.
What do you think about pride? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.