Pride is evil. Pride causes you to think more of yourself than you should, and consequently causes you to think less of others. Pride is the original sin of Satan and ultimately the root of Adam and Eve’s sin. At best, pride will distract you from what is most important and at worst, it can wreck your ministry. As ministers, we must flee from pride.
(I know you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah… I’ve heard that sermon before.”)
So the opposite of pride is humility, right? Wrong. Too often we recognize a hint of pride in our life and we try our best to eliminate it immediately thinking we’re automatically seeking humility. But it recently occurred to me that the opposite posture of pride isn’t humility—it’s inferiority. And inferiority is equally as harmful as pride.
Here’s an example: You’re leading a group of leaders with some measure of success, and you begin to feel the sharp snare of pride welling up from within. Immediately your years of Biblical training and sermon listening kick-in. You constrict the feeling by examining your recent failures or even the successes of other leaders around you. Suddenly, you don’t feel so amazing anymore…. It worked! Except now you feel less than amazing—unworthy even. You begin to wonder if your recent success was more accidental than intentional, and if you’ll even be able find success again. You’ve swung from a posture of pride to a posture of inferiority.
Inferiority will quench the power of the Holy Spirit from your ministry and ultimately it will cause you to operate anemically in the power of self just as much as pride. Pride causes us to reject the power of God because we think we don’t need it. Inferiority causes us to reject the power of God because we think we’re not worth it. Both rejections are equally sinful.
So what should we do? We must deny self, be crucified with Christ, and seek humility. C.S. Lewis said it well—“True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” When we find ourselves experiencing seasons of success, we shouldn’t look for reasons that we aren’t successful or that others are more successful. We should bow ourselves at the throne of God and give Him all the glory. When you realize that your strengths—and your weaknesses—were all designed by God and fitly purposed to glorify Him, you’ll begin to think of yourself less and of Him more. So if I could expound ever so slightly on Lewis’ definition of true humility, I would say “True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it is thinking continuously of the most Glorious Father.”
But I’m no poet, so I’ll leave the quotes to C.S. Lewis. I’m interested in reading your comments below.
Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He earned his Doctor of Ministry focusing on church planting and revitalization through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2015. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.