pride v. humility

I did some thinking in recent weeks (daydreaming would describe it more accurately), and I came to two conclusions. The first conclusion is that most of what is wrong with the world can be attributed to pride, in one form or another. The second conclusion is a corrollary of the first: Humility is the fount of virtue, the foundation of most that is good, and the sole hope for the redemption of humanity.

For getting on, I'll simply define humility as "the state where one understands oneself honestly, and acts accordingly," and pride as "the state where one thinks more highly of oneself than one ought to, and (also) acts accordingly."

Let us compare how pride and humility function in a practical sense:

Pride feels it is entitled to all it desires, and often pursues them to excess until they lose all taste. Humility understand that anything it receives is a gift.

Pride thinks itself above the rules. Humility realizes that "the rules apply to me too." (This was a hard personal lesson for me.)

Pride thinks itself capable of anything. Humility recalls the wise words of Clint Eastwood, "A man's got to know his limitations".

Pride must live up to and project a shiny self-image to the world, regardless of the ugly truth beneath. With humility, what you see is what you get.

Pride overvalues self-reliance and independence, and cannot fathom itself in a position of need to anyone. Humility admits the basic need for other people in its existence, and accepts help when it needs it.

When failures happen, pride immediately looks for someone or something else to blame. Humility understands that, as Cassius said in Julius Caesar, "the fault... is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

The paradox of the whole matter is this: Though the prideful may possess more abilities than the humble, and may even achieve more material success, they often fail in their relationships, burn out quickly in leadership and find themselves isolated in the end. Humble people have better relationships, make better leaders, make the most of their talents, and ultimately live happier lives that transcend their circumstances. Humility doesn't preclude confidence, but instead cultivates a confidence based on one's real abilities and gifts that gives credit where credit is due.

Why is this? There are many practical reasons, but the root is this: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." If the Creator of the Universe values humility in His creation, and sent His Son to demonstrate humility more radically than anyone before or since, it follows that He will also radically bless those who practice it.

I know this is a simple way of looking at life, but honestly, if we taught our kids to look at the world in light of pride and humility, wouldn't it be a much better place? People would recognize when others are acting out of pride or humility, (hopefully) recognize that actions born out of humility are pleasing to God and beneficial to them, and in turn cultivate humility in their own lives...

On second thought, this will probably never happen until Kingdom Come. It makes too much sense....

I'll end this one with a little-known Rich Mullins song called "None are Stronger".

And as I lay me down one evening,
I thought of Jesus on the hill
And how for men He was weeping,
When it was Him they were going to kill
And I know it would have saved them
Had they only just allowed
None are stronger than the humble
And few are weaker than the proud

And then my thoughts, they turned to David,
And how he watched his father's flocks
How the music that he was playing
Could calm the demons in a mighty man's heart
And when the prophet came round looking for a king,
He sought young David out,
'Cause none are stronger than the humble
And few are weaker than the proud

And I know that you know about Moses,
And how he left the Pharoah's courts
When he saw the injustice
Done to the people, the people of the Lord
And though his fears drove him to hiding,
The Lord his heart with courage soon endowed
'Cause none are stronger than the humble
And few are weaker than the proud

And none are stronger than the humble
And few are weaker than the proud


At 3:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nate, it`s Milan. I hope that you read a comments ..
Nice exercise! Next time you may preach in our church ..
I just want to ask you about your possible visit StP in july, as you have been mentioned. Karen and Chastains were our guests.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Billy Einkamerer said...

Hi Nate,

Thanks for this; it was a word in season for me, as I grapple with the pride vs. humility thing myself... I love the song, it was searching for the lyrics that actually got me to your site!

Keep well.


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