C.S. Lewis writes that pride is the greatest of all sins. It is in pride that we become self-worshipers, neglecting our very own creator.
Pride is defined as, “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority,” or simply stated, thinking WAY too much of yourself.
Pride is off-putting. I don’t like to spend a lot of time around others who talk about how great they are the whole time. People don’t like to be around me when I talk about how great I am. To me, pride possesses a unique ugliness that drives us away from each other.
When confronted by pride I am conflicted over why it is that I continue to choose it over humility. There would have to be at least ONE reason why I would do such a stupid thing!
After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that the one benefit that pride holds over humility is the immediacy of its return. It is the classical psychological debate between immediate and delayed reinforcement. Pride is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. We use pride to treat the symptoms of a life-long disease, of which the only cure is humility.
One of the most innate human desires is to matter – to make a difference in the life of someone else in such a way that we are not forgotten – to give our lives meaning and worth.
When we indulge in pride we are in essence attempting to define our own worth. We try to tell others how much we SHOULD mean to them, rather than letting them tell us what we are worth. While this technique is effective immediately, it lacks the staying power of actually being defined. There will always be that voice in the back of our heads that asks, “Am I really worth what I say I am? How do I know? No one has ever told me before…”
The definition of humility is “A modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.”
If we are truly modest in our opinion of our own importance. Our meaning. Our worth. It opens the opportunity for other people to express our worth to them! We are then defined as we are truly perceived because we invite others to tell us what we mean to them. Their opinion combined with our self-evaluation provides a more realistic, longer lasting, and more fulfilling critique of our worth.
From personal experience in this practice I can tell you, it takes a while for people to begin expressing how much you mean to them. It is a true test of patience; but this patience is essential for both loving ourselves and those around us. Love is first and foremost patient (1 Corinthians 13), and we express this love by lending the opportunity for others to express their love for us.
Near the end of Donald Miller’s book Through Painted Deserts he writes about what he would do if he ever got frustrated with his life again and says, “I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find people who aren’t like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me…”
Pride builds a wall that prevents others from loving us. Together, let’s take down our walls, be patient, and receive love from our neighbors; for both of our sakes!