“My greatest character trait is my humility.” Those words were uttered tongue-in-cheek by a friend back in college and I’ve heard the same thing said by others several times since. Always a joke. But I wonder if we’re predisposed to actually believing it. If so, our ignorance and self-deception is going to kill us.
My summer reading has created a nexus of sorts that has me locked in a little loop of self-evaluation when it comes to the issue of pride. As one called to be like Christ, there’s no room at the table of belief and behavior for pride. Yet, we live in a world that encourages pride. . . as broken people with a default-setting to pursue, entertain, indulge, and even celebrate pride.
I’ve been reading Rebecca DeYoung’s Glittering Vices which addresses the seven deadly sins and their remedies. In her disarming chapter on Vainglory she rightly notes that the vice “enjoys a good reputation in contemporary culture.” She hits us hard with the observation that for many (most? all?) of us, “maintaining an image with the right approval ratings is a way of life, even a respectable profession.” Ouch. I’ve been reminded that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and when I seek to live for Christ while inviting pride into my life. . . well. . . you know what happens.
Our contemporary battle with pride is fueled by the playground-for-pride known as social media. Over the weekend I began the painful process of facing our present reality by starting Adam Alter’s book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Eye-opening and frightening, to say the least. Woven in and through Atler’s expose is the reality that in spite of the facts, our pride and commitment to vainglory throw us on a trajectory that takes us deeper and deeper into what we should recognize as idolatry.
In her book Praying Through The Bible For Your Kids, Nancy Guthrie addresses the issue of pride in this morning’s entry. “Pride is such a sneaky sin, especially when it is at the heart of our motivation for doing something that isn’t necessarily a sin. How we need, and how our children need, to examine what is driving us – especially when we want to count the ‘likes’ on our social media post, the wins or records set in athletics, or the number of A’s on our children’s report cards. What we need is for God to do whatever it takes to humble us so that we will not be seduced by the sin of pride.”
And so the battle rages.
The topic’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. I recently took some time to chat with my buddies Mark Matlock and Derry Prenkert about self-promotion in the world of youth ministry. I hope you’ll find the conversation as helpful as I did. . .