a complicated relationship with pride

1 10 2014

We church leaders have a complicated relationship with pride. We want to do things well; often we do do things well; and when when we do do things well, we worry more about whether everyone went away laughing at the word do-do than being proud that we did well.

None of us – hopefully – want to be ‘proud’. Not that bad sort of proud that lives on a pedestal and becomes arrogance. So, we easily fall into false humility instead. No no, it wasn’t me, it was the Lord! Bless the Lord for my wonderful preaching! I mean his wonderful speaking through this broken vessel…

And we’re back to do-do.


I thought long and hard about this when I finished my Snowdon challenge. Because I was proud. Seriously proud. Not badly, not arrogantly. Look, see, I’m already defending it. I was interested because I allowed myself to be proud. This was ok to be proud about. Why? Because I had worked flipping’ hard, trained for 3 months, run further and faster than ever before, taken on a big challenge, and succeeded. Yay!

So, why is that different from, say, feeling proud after a successful fun day, or assembly, or service. I put loads of work into all those; some are massive challenges. Challenge, success, pride. Yay! No?

It is different because we are not ‘meant’ to say that ‘we’ have done those things. Because without God, we couldn’t. And without God, I could have run Snowdon. Probably. But I think so many of us do ourselves down because we won’t let ourselves be proud at our achievements, because we fear becoming arrogant, self-serving, and, well, proud. And we all know what comes after pride…

But I am proud. Hopefully in a gentle, humble, but confident way, I am proud. Proud when I have played a part in helping someone stay dry from an addiction for several years; proud in being part of leading a church that has changed from 14 older ladies to enough for a harvest lunch for 50 (and that not being everyone) (eek, pride); proud to see young people we have influenced doing so well; proud when people grow and develop their faith; proud to have managed to hold together a diverse and complicated community, along with family and other responsibilities; proud to win Banstead Woods parkrun.

Are you proud?

Proud? Yes. And I think that God says, yes, be proud. Celebrate what is good. But temper it with humility, absorbing praise and then reflecting it upwards; knowing that we do all things in his strength, not our own. Because none of us want to be the arrogant church leader who looks down on everyone else’s church or ministry or lighting system. And anyway, most of us are not really arrogant, we’re insecure; we’re not proud, we’re terrified. But we are the people God has made us, with gifts and talents, and when God uses them, and when we work with him to hone them, that is something to be proud of.

We are not meant to be faceless, identikit personality-void vending machines of God-iness. We are meant to be ourselves, partnering with God, for the kingdom. So let’s be confident and tender and proud and humble.

I said it was complicated.    




3 responses

2 10 2014

Yep. Complicated alright.

I think ‘pride’ has historically been deemed as a sin. The Church seemed to alight on that word and perhaps forgot to acknowledge the full capacity of its meaning. A little like taking passages out of context maybe.

I’m trying to put words onto a concept that I can’t really grasp so think I might not be quite hitting the nail on the head here but in essence I’m agreeing that pride isn’t always a bad thing. It needs to be coupled with other things and it needs to include God somehow, but it’s GOOD to be proud of the things your achievement.

What about that really burny bursting feeling you get in your chest when someone you love does something really amazing. That is a swelling of love and pride and it can’t be a bad thing!

Just thoughts.

Hope all is well.

2 10 2014

Yep fireflyby, I think it is something like that… there’s lots of things that have been considered ‘sins’, but it is actually their excess that is ‘sinful’… as with pride, we are not called to walk in sackcloth & ashes, doing ourselves down, but if we continually lift ourselves up, or elevate ourselves & our achievements, then that becomes pride. And all the time, it is knowing we did this with God, for God, and he is what i important.

4 10 2014

thank you. thank you. thank you.
Lots has been happening recently which has required a lot of me – and I’ve hd a growing sense of a deep, deep “well done!” which I was in danger of confusing with the wrong sort of pride (d’you remember our exchange about Dobby some time ago?!?).
Through this blog you’ve helped me see there’s nothing wrong with knowing that for once I’ve been faithful to God’s call and leading in a particular situation, a channel for His grace into deep darkness… and that it’s not wrong, not sin, to feel a deep satisfaction in a job well done.
Pride, the wrong sort, is the attitude which says “I’m more holy than you, I’m more spiritual than you, I’m closer to God than you…” and I’m not. But I _have_ been faithful this time, and that’s enough. And I can take deep satisfaction in that. Because that also is a sharing in the mind of God – who surely takes deep satisfaction in His children’s increasing maturity and skill-development. 🙂

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