Dealing with pride
- Larry Burkett Co-CEO of Crown Financial Ministries
- 1999 7 Jul
God will give us plenty of opportunities to recognize and correct this attitude. The difficulty most times is admitting that we actually have the problem.
A number of years ago, God gave me the opportunity to assess my own level of pride. I was working on some important material and a deadline was approaching.
I received a call from a widow I was counseling, and I was a little irritated because she had been in several times previously with relatively simple problems.
She asked if she could come in right away because she had a crisis in her budget (her checking account didn't balance). I explained that I really didn't have any time available and suggested another counselor we had trained.
A short time later I received a call from a businessman who wanted to bring a celebrity by who was in town working on a movie. I agreed to his request, but after hanging up the phone I remembered the words of James: "If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors" (James 2:9).
I found myself trapped by the most devious snare that Satan lays: pride. I also found that God's correction system is very painful sometimes. I had to call the businessman back and tell him I couldn't meet with him and the celebrity until later.
Then, I had to call my counselee back and ask her forgiveness. (By the way, the celebrity never did keep the appointment. He was too miffed by being put off).
"For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it" (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Nothing points more clearly to a pride problem than an aloof leader. Christians are no longer useful to God's work when they only want to associate with the right people and look down at others because they're less educated, less intelligent, or less successful.
A businessman who looks down on his employees and other contacts will not be a witness on the job. That's why Christians in authority should care about the least significant person in the company as much as the most important.
The apostle Paul noted that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). In another letter, Paul instructed Titus to remind Christians "to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men" (Titus 3:1-2).
One businessman I knew made a concerted effort to step out of his executive mold and serve others first. He directed his efforts toward getting to know his lowest level employees.
When he did, he found they had many financial problems. The net result was that he substantially increased most of their wages. One employee had tremendous medical bills for a child with cancer. He paid the majority of the bills himself and raised the rest of the money from friends.
Initially, not one of the employees was a Christian, but half of them eventually gave their lives to Christ.
Obviously, it's not necessary to be poor in order to be godly but, just as certainly, the Bible states that affluence presents the greatest threat to our walk with the Lord. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).
It is a rare individual who can handle much wealth and keep his or her priorities straight. But if we become involved in meeting the needs of others, we can focus more clearly on what our actual needs are.
One businessman determined to help the poor whenever he could.
He and several other businessmen started buying run-down houses, repairing them, and making them available to the elderly at whatever they could afford.
Several times they pooled their funds and purchased small homes outright for elderly widows.
The homes usually were in the inner city and could be purchased and repaired for $20,000 or less.
With 20 businessmen involved, the expense was not prohibitive.
One of the real dangers of pride that Christians in authority face is that most people are afraid to confront them.
Besides, many people who are egotistical enough to show their pride are too proud to accept counsel from an employee.
Once Christians are trapped by their pride, they are of no service to God.
How do you break out of this pride trap? Vow to serve God and God's people, and then make yourself accountable to others.
First, a husband and wife must be accountable to each other. Major decisions should be discussed and opinions and insights exchanged. If a wife has the liberty to be honest, she will usually detect and expose her husband's pride and vice versa.
Second, Christian business-people should be accountable to peers or someone they respect who is strong enough to be totally honest. Those I know who practice accountability find they must meet regularly and learn each other's basic flaws. They must be studying God's Word and seeking to truly serve the Lord.
Finally, their criticism must be honest and based on God's Word. And the person who points out a problem must suggest a solution and testify how that solution helped in his or her own life.