Pride. About every leader I know deals with it at some level or another. It’s what constantly must be kept in check, yet is so easily misdiagnosed.
Like a rare strand of a disease, pride often hides beneath external symptoms and only reveals its true colors after the damage has already been done.
Pride makes us believe the world or those in it are the ones at fault. When in reality, the problem often lies within.
This infection of the heart is a process. It’s doesn’t happen all at once, but gradually occurs as you give pride increasing dominion in your heart.
Today, let’s take a hard look at ourselves and see if any of these signs indicate the infection has occurred.
1. In a group, you speak to the person who can do the most for you.
Prideful people look out for themselves. It’s ingrained into their social interactions. Whether this be for advancing their position or enjoying it, they surround themselves with people who can do the most for them.
How do you know your heart is beginning to be infected with pride? Think about who you go to when you enter a group.
Is it the person who can do the most for you? They have the connections, give you compliments, are generous towards you relationally… They give you what you want or have what you desire.
Or is it the person who needs you? You have the connections they need, you possess the encouragement they crave, YOU have something to offer them.
I know this might be an unfair question. Most questions dealing with the wretchedness of our hearts can be. However, pride sinking into your heart is rarely because you simply made a bad decision. It’s because you gradually told your heart, “What I want is more important than what others need”.
This, my friend, does not sound like Jesus. Christ came to serve and give Himself as a ransom for many. When He entered a crowd, He was looking for the one who needed Him, not the one who could serve Him.
Now just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with connecting with your friends at a dinner party or naturally gravitating toward people you know. This isn’t inherently selfish. Enjoying and intentionally pursuing friendships is Godly.
However, when pride begins infecting your heart, it won’t make room for anyone who isn’t already on your list. Because friendships take time, intentionality, and sacrifice.
Pride will even corrupt your current friendships and make them more about what they can do for you.
So the next time you enter into a crowd, pay attention to your heart.
- Who does it gravitate towards?
- Who does it avoid?
- What do you talk about?
- And what determines whether or not you had a good time?
2. On social media, you are fixated on “likes received” rather than stories shared.
Social media has created an entirely new playground for our egos. Whether it be through the likes and compliments we receive from the selfies we post,
or something a little more subtle…
like the attention we as leaders get when we post about our “humble service” or even share our “insightful” reflections.
I’m speaking more to myself than anyone else at the moment. The reality is sometimes I become more fixated on likes received in the name of “helping” people, than actually focusing upon the people I proclaim to be helping.
You know what I’m talking about. Our hearts can tend to jump a little more with each additional like or share we get. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting to know what we share is connecting with people. And dare I say, may even be helping them.
However, pride corrupts the joy of seeing others being changed by Jesus and centers our hearts on celebrating the part we had in it.
This is tricky because I know what you are thinking….
Finding joy in being used by Jesus CAN’T be bad. However, here’s the reality…
Someone’s life might be forever changed by Jesus, but pride wants you to only see your small part in it.
3. When serving, your joy is dependent upon acknowledgment.
Everyone likes and I would even say, needs to feel appreciated. This is especially true in ministry. Whether you’re in a volunteer position or on paid staff, nothing makes you feel more valued than hearing you are doing a good job.
The excitement and joy you once felt when connecting with a first time guest, playing on the worship team, teaching a child about Jesus, leading a small group…
The joy that was once focused upon Jesus and those He loves can gradually become centered upon you.
When pride fills your heart, your joy in serving others is no longer because of the good things happening for others, but the good things being said about you.
If pride were a person, it wouldn’t be content on a team, it would need to be on the stage. Pride turns the joy of being on GOD’S TEAM to the need to be singled out and praised.
Bottom line: If your joy in serving is found in what people are saying about you, it won’t be found in what others are saying about Jesus.
And my friend, what people say about Christ should fill your cup, because when the lost become found, when the unbeliever believes, when those far from God come back, when those who didn’t know Jesus proclaim He IS LORD…
That should fill you. That should captivate your soul. And if it no longer does, pride is most likely infecting your heart.
4. You are only happy when most things go your way.
As humans, of course, we want what we want.
There is something very natural about wanting to have influence, being happy when things go our way, and experiencing a certain level of healthy pride when what we say or do changes the direction of our company, business, or ministry.
However, what can happen is that when we attach our happiness to us getting what we believe is best, it removes the joy found in trusting that Jesus is working for our good.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is constantly working for our good. Not the…
- Get more money
- Always be healthy
- Win the lottery or new car
Working for our good, but working to bring ALL people, especially us, to Himself: the source of life and ultimate satisfaction, peace, and hope.
Jesus is working for our good and He knows what is necessary to bring all people to Himself. And we can trust that He is working to that end.
But when pride infects our hearts we can stop believing or trusting that He is at work, or even worse…
We’d rather have our way than more of Him.
Pride does that. It attacks more than what we think or believes about Jesus. It corrupts our desires for Him.Pride rarely changes your mind, but it always corrupts your heart.
5. You crave more of what you can create than what God has to offer.
As a writer and aspiring entrepreneur, I love coming up with ideas and creating. I believe God designed us to be creators as we are made in the image of God, the ultimate creator.
However, pride corrupts our Godly desire to create by making what we want to create more appealing than what God has to offer.
For leaders, this is probably most evident in our quiet times with Jesus. On a head level, we under that God is our source of life.
He is the eternal water that won’t run dry and replenishes our soul. But…
It better not take more than 30 minutes because we have things to do.
Did you catch that? Maybe it’s just me, but I know pride is beginning to infect my heart when what I want to create is more appealing to me than what God has to offer me during my time with Him.
Think about it. When was the last time you thought….
I want to keep reading God’s word and talking to Him?
Not because you were writing a sermon, or because scripture gave you insight into someone else’s life.
But because Jesus was filling you, changing you, and making you new.
If that hasn’t happened in a while, may I suggest that pride may be under the surface? Be honest about it, take it to Jesus, and sit before Him.
That is the only way to have our hearts changed: giving it to Jesus and allowing Him to go to work.
6. Compliments make you critical more than grateful.
“You really knocked it out of the park.”
“What you created, the sermon you gave, the team you put together, the event/project you completed… is awesome. You NAILED IT!”
Maybe you’ve heard something like this before. Complements are encouraging. Especially when you know the person saying them really means it. For many, receiving compliments is part of their love language. I’m one of them.
However, pride can take this opportunity to feel loved and turn it into a critical mindset towards others.
Let me explain.
Most young church leaders I know aren’t the primary communicators at their church or ministry. However, every once in a while they get the opportunity to preach, lead, or influence the team. It’s a privilege not everyone experiences.
After the opportunity, complements can often flood in. Especially if you do a good job. Nothing wrong with that.
However, when these compliments are spoken to a prideful heart, there is a temptation to become critical toward those who are the primary communicators or leaders.
Pride toys with your mind and you start thinking things like…
“I should be able to do that more often. I’m just as good if not a better teacher. I would lead differently if I were in charge.”
This downward spiral of pride takes the gratefulness from your soul. What should have been a beautiful opportunity for growth will become a stumbling block for your heart.
This pride will cause division among your team, could result in losing out in future opportunities, or you’ll have a team that begins to worship you and not Jesus.
7. People’s imperfections begin to irritate you.
No one’s perfect. You’ve probably said this before. But, when pride begins infecting your heart, the imperfections of others begin to increasingly irritate you. Things you used to easily overlook or forgive become more and more of a big deal.
Your irritation isn’t proportionate to the cause of your irritation.
- Someone jokingly makes fun of you at work and you snap at them.
- Your spouse doesn’t say or do something the way you had expected.
- Someone shows up late for work, takes 5 minutes longer on lunch, or says something that “might” have an attitude.
What imperfection is getting under your skin? My assumption is you take the time to notice the imperfect, but don’t take the time to adequately evaluate why your heart jumps with such irrational irritation. You probably pawn it off to having a bad day, or just being tired. Or worse, you believe you were justified.
When pride infects your heart, the grace you once so easily gave away can become a rare treasure. Because…
Pride embraces judgment, while humility dispenses grace. Which one you give to others will evidence what’s in your heart.
8. Disagreements regularly turn into hurt feelings.
Pride makes it almost impossible to not take things personally.
- Someone offers a suggestion and you take it as criticism.
- A family member agrees with your sibling and not you, and it’s World War Three.
- A team member communicates there is a better option other than the one you presented and you take it as a personal attack.
When you disagree with someone there are two ways of mentally and emotionally perceiving it. You either…
- Assume the best, or…
- Assume the worst
Assuming the best means believing the other person’s intentions are honorable. Trusting they are working for the good of you and/or the team. Assuming the best demands you listen more than read in-between the lines.
Assuming the worst is just the opposite. You assume there are hidden motives and believe these motives aren’t pure.
When you assume the worst it’s very difficult to listen to the person you are disagreeing with. Pride sets in and you are focused upon what you can say to rebut their position.
When your heart is battling with pride, you want to defend your position above understanding the other person’s.
And when your goal is to be heard and not to hear, hurt feelings will most naturally follow because pride isn’t content with being heard. It demands being chosen.
9. Time with family doesn’t excite you.
Success can often bring pride. And with pride comes a greater desire to be lifted up and celebrated.
Family is probably one of the best remedies for pride because often…
Your family isn’t impressed with you. At least not for your accomplishments.
They don’t care what book you’ve written, the successful business deal you negotiated, or how many people listen to what you have to say.
They care about having a spouse or parent who listens to them and loves them often.
Of course, they might be proud of you, but they won’t focus upon the accomplishments because they simply want the person: You.
Unfortunately, pride can do something horrible to your heart. It can cause time with family to no longer excite you like it once did. Instead, you’ll want to spend an increasing amount of time doing the things that will fill your pride cup.
This is probably why there are so many workaholics. It’s not because they are addicted to work, but they are addicted to the praise and pride their accomplishments bring them.
This addiction is never ending because pride is never satisfied. You can never be praised enough to the point of feeling content. You will want more and more until it consumes how your time is spent.
But family doesn’t need your accomplishments. They simply want your presence, and your presence will demand your time.
10. It’s increasingly difficult to live under the authority of your leader.
Are you experiencing increased tension with the person leading you? There could be numerous reasons for this. However, let’s talk about just one.
Pride can make it increasingly difficult to live under the authority of your leader because pride HATES authority,
Because it wants to control.
- Pride wants to lead not to be led.
- Pride wants to be heard and not coached.
- Pride wants to influence and not be influenced.
- Pride wants to be right and not corrected.
Those struggling with pride will naturally gravitate towards controlling situations and feel a sense of frustration when they are not the ones in control. Eventually, you have to decide,
Will you trust and follow an imperfect leader or constantly fight for control?
If you can train your heart to trust, you will gradually remove the infection of pride from your heart because trust takes humility.
Pride is the constant desire to be lifted up. Humility is the pursuit to lift others up. And you can’t put yourself on a pedestal if you are working to place others on it.