I was recently asked for some advice in combating pride. A lot of good articles have already been written on the topic. For example, John Piper has written an excellent post on pride. . One thing I would add to Piper’s list of reminders is Romans 12:3-8, which reminds us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.
3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; 7 if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
In the above passage, I think one of the points Paul is making is to remember that our gifts and talents come from God, and we don’t have all the gifts there are to be had. Other people have gifts we don’t have, and we should be making space for them to use their gifts, even while we seek to use ours. God repeatedly inspires Paul to refer to the Church as a body, with many interconnected body parts. In 1 Corinthians 12-14, when Paul writes about the body, he rebukes an attitude of proud members of the body of thinking they don’t need the other members. He also rebukes the more humble members from thinking they don’t belong or that they are not needed.
God values teamwork, but we, in our pride, value doing things independently. We think mature adulthood is “I can do it myself.” It’s true that mature adulthood is taking responsibility and initiative to take care of ourselves however mature adulthood is also knowing that you need others. You will be a help to others and they will be a help to you. There is a time when it is wrong to say “Just do it yourself!” And it is always good to remember that apart from God, you can do nothing, even the things at which you are very talented.
Humility, however, is not false modesty. When you are good at something, or capable of something that needs doing, you should go ahead and say, if it’s appropriate, “I have ability with that. I can get to work on it, and would welcome input from anyone else on this.”
I remind myself regularly that God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. I tend to be a know-it-all, self-righteous person! I find myself internally justifying myself, listing all the good things I have done, unfortunately trying to be better and more special than the people around me. Pride is closely related to insecurity! Happily, I am catching myself at this more often now, and I think the Spirit reminds me to list all the good things others around me have done. How much better all of our work might be if we invited collaboration in the process! But we don’t like to do that because we can’t take all the credit.
I am coming to a point of rejoicing at the opportunity to lift up another person, even if they don’t know that is what I am doing. God sees, and I think He is really happy. Ruth and I were collectively reflecting recently on the joy of working together, and we look forward to the way God will continue to use our collaboration in the future.