On June 26 I retired after being pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown for 35 years. I’ve taken some time to look back at the main lessons God has taught me during that time. Here’s one:
As I think of the lessons I have learned in my life of ministry I must include my battle with pride. Pride can be a very subtle thing, but it is extremely dangerous! When I think I have it licked in one area of life it pops up in another. Not only that, but it’s very hard for me to recognize it in my own life! I can pick it out in others quite easily but am almost totally blinded to it in my own life.
I’m told I need to feel good about myself, have confidence in what I believe and enjoy who I am and what I’ve accomplished. When doing that I have to be VERY careful I don’t slip into pride. Yet if I go to the opposite extreme and put myself down all the time that is still pride. It’s an over-emphasis of self, a self-centeredness and self-focus. There really isn’t any difference between saying I’m better than others and saying I’m worse than others. The focus is still on me. And that is pride.
In football a team will start setting up what they feel can be a scoring play long before running that particular play. They do little things that will influence the defense so that when they run the special play they have the maximum advantage to make it successful. I feel like Satan does the same thing to me. There is something said, then something else happens, and before I know it pride has scored on me again!
The best I can do is to keep asking God to show me pride and to keep me from it. It’s too narrow a tightrope for me to walk alone! I truly don’t want to be acting in pride. But I also am often unaware of it in its early stages. Daily I must ask God to keep me from it, to show it to me and to help me keep from it. I’ve learned to have a healthy respect for the damage it can do and the deceitful ways it can manifest itself. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ it hits me but ‘when’ it hits, for it certainly will.
My wife has been my biggest help in pointing out pride to me before I recognize it. Wanting to always be right, reacting against constructive criticism, little critical things I say about others, attitudes to other ministries, these and others are subtle ways she can see pride before I see it. Admitting my failures without feeling like a failure is hard for me. Loving myself and letting others love me when I’m wrong isn’t easy. It’s all about pride. Pride is at the root of all sin. Self-centeredness is the opposite of God-centeredness and other-centeredness. It’s such a large part of our ‘flesh’ that we will have to deal with it as long as we live in these bodies. Thank God for His patience and mercy with us! (August 8, 2016 Doylestown, PA)
Proverbs 11:1 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Daniel 4:37 Those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Where or when is your biggest problem with pride? What can you do about it?
How do you respond to criticism? How critical are you of others who challenge you?
Ask your mate of best friend to honestly tell you where they see pride in your life. Ask them to tell you every time they see you reacting in pride.
Write down a detailed list of where pride manifests itself in your life. Pray about this every day for the next week.
INDIA UPDATE: I’m working on a series called “What Difference Does It Make?” I’ll cover the existence of God, inspiration of the Bible, deity of Jesus, virgin birth, existence of hell and heaven, return of Jesus and many other subjects. I’ll use it for the youth conferences in India and for our World View Reunion in October. I want to condense it to use with pastors, too. They have been asking for a book on apologetics and within the next year I hope to be able to turn this into a book for pastors as well.
PRAY FOR me as I develop these important truths for the youth in India and the USA, as well as for the pastors in India. Ask God to give me the needed wisdom, insight and understanding to communicate these truths in a way that He will be glorified.