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4 Ways to Know That You're a Prideful Christian

  • Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Apr 19, 2016
4 Ways to Know That You're a Prideful Christian

All of us have read the Bible story. Two men are praying. One of them looks over and sees a tax collector and prays, “Thank you God I’m not like HIM!”

The second one barely looks up and he mutters, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:8-14)

Pride is a struggle for all of us, but it doesn’t always look the same.


Sometimes pride is obvious. We can hardly wait for others to notice what we’ve done.    

We’re proud about how our ministries are doing, sometimes even proud about how busy we are, as if it’s a sign of our spirituality. Doesn’t serving more mean we’re loved more? For the proud person, the concept of God loving us just as we are is a hard one to swallow. After all, what is that person contributing?

If you think this doesn’t describe you, let me ask you, when do you feel you can share a petition with God? After you’ve just served him, or after you’ve blown it?

It’s feasible that we believe God loves us more one day than another. And when we fall into that pattern of thinking, we’re putting more weight on our performance than we are on what God has done for us. 

The proud person half listens, waiting for the chance to interject what he/she has done.


Perfectionists need to be right. It’s a drivenness. One way to determine if this rings true for you is this: What happens when you’re proven wrong? Do all the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you want to fight? 

The perfectionistic Christian may even use scripture about striving for excellence to justify their perfectionism. After all, God wants us to do our best, right? To a perfectionist, anything less than perfect doesn’t count.   

As a returning student, I remember one biology lab I took. We had just received our quizzes back when a woman I’ll refer to as Barb became upset. She liked her A, just not the minus sign attached to it. Barb spent the better part of our class arguing with the student teacher why one of her answers should not have received partial credit. She didn’t let go till that grade was changed. As I walked away from that class, I felt convicted. Is that what I’ve looked like, Lord?    

After that day, I cared a little less about being right. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still like being right, just not as much.   


Many people who have been pampered carry that over into adulthood. In fact, that’s what people usually think of when they hear the word entitlement. But those who have struggled all their lives can also feel entitled. They feel they have put in their time and they deserve to finally be compensated for it.  

You can see entitlement in the impatient shopper who taps her foot in the grocery line. And if my cashier had to stop for any reason? Well I might have been the one letting out a big sigh. This body language could be deciphered, If you knew who I am, you would move faster.

Read Matthew 20:9-14. This is a difficult passage for those who feel entitled. After all, don’t the number of hours we give carry more weight? 

Read Mark 10:37-38. Both of these men felt entitled. Of anyone in the world, Jesus was entitled, and yet, he laid it down. 

Being a martyr

This one may surprise you, I know it surprised me. A martyr appears to be thinking of others, but a martyr has an agenda. 

“That’s okay, I’ll make the calls, or I’ll do ____________, I don’t mind.” Except they do mind, they’re just not admitting it. 

But please hear me, there are genuine servants, those content to serve even when no one knows about it. They serve out of love.

Martyrs display a false humility where it almost appears they are crouched down to look humble. 

True humility is standing to your full height next to his highness. There is no pretense. 

Recognizing pride in ourselves

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve struggled in all these areas.   

If anyone had the right to be proud it was Jesus. And yet, if you read Philippians 2:5-8, you’ll see he was the complete opposite.

Maybe you identify yourself in some of these examples. If you do, that’s okay. Pride sneaks in without warning.

How can we deal with pride? 

Sanctification is a process

Read Philippians 1:6. If we have accepted God’s salvation, he is at work in us. And God doesn’t quit until he’s done. One day I will look like Jesus. 

The Holy Spirit faithfully points out areas where we need work and God is the one who will work. We just need to submit to him. And sometimes the first step is the hardest. 

Hi, I’m Anne Peterson, and I have a problem with pride. 

I’m so glad God paid for that sin too.

Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author. Some of her books include her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and children’s books like, Emma’s Wish. She recently published Droplets, a poetry book for those in grief and most recently He Whispers, poetic talks with God. To see more of her books visit Anne's author page. She has also authored 42 published Bible Studies and over 30 articles with christianbiblestudies.com/Today’s Christian Woman. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still, “Grandma.”

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Publication date: April 19, 2016