We use the term pride so often that I think we have thoroughly watered down its definition and by extension its implication as well. I am not talking about what many call positive pride, which I think should be given a better description anyway, but I am referring to the negative pride here. When people make reference to themselves unduly, we call them proud simply because they have tried to highlight their abilities to the disgust of others, for whatever reason. We also make judgments on people about pride from what we see in their appearance or in their actions. I particularly do not like seeing men who wear conspicuous jewelry as I tend to think they are acting like peacocks and attracting too much attention. I would normally call that a form of pride and write off such persons as lacking in self control and hence proud as well. What error. Even though I still do not believe men should wear jewelry (in my infantile opinion), except for their wedding bands or watches (if that is even necessary), but those bling bling by no way or measure tell the state of a man’s heart.
In the same vein, we are quick to point out a proud man by his actions or by his speech. Some people are very conscious of how many times a person uses the first person pronoun in a given conversation or speech. Especially in religious institutions where there is a higher consciousness of character, one becomes sensitive to those who do not ‘humble’ themselves after those preconceived notions of humility. But from my experience I have come to understand what pride is in the context of my walk with God and in society, and this is what I want to share in this little article. I had to shatter some of the notions I had on the matter and refresh my thinking totally. Some of the things I did, which I counted as being humble were in abject violation of the standard of God for my life. It took me a point of real encounter before I came to clearly understand how my Father sees this issue.
There is the basic definition of pride which holds universally and cannot be upturned. I presume everyone will agree that pride is a state of unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem. When one exalts the self beyond reason, then we note the presence of pride. However, we fail to properly identify what pride really means. The central idea in pride is the word ‘self’ and it is the consideration of this that will help clarify our understanding on how pride manifests. I have come to understand that what we call pride is usually just one manifestation of it; arrogance. Other words that can be used for this are haughtiness, insolence, high-mindedness, pomposity, self-conceit, and hubris, and they all refer to an excessive esteem of self above others. Pride is like a continuum, and all these are tending to one extreme of the continuum. But again there is the other extreme of the scale which also is a manifestation of pride. This is when there is an underrating of one’s’ self, making one feel inferior to others. So one side of pride makes you feel superior to others and the other side makes you feel inferior to others. This is controversial I know, but let me say something about it anyways.
When a person is shy, many assume they are humble and introverted. Shy people are usually concerned about their weaknesses and concern about how people see them and feel about their communication or appearance. This is a very powerful state of the mind that has kept many concerned about self and preoccupied with what others think about them. This is the other manifestation that is more evident in people than the excessive exhibition of it. This is pride in its subtle form and many have no idea that shyness is rooted in the preoccupation with self. Most times what make people shy are a wrong self conception, and a thwarted perception of other peoples’ concern about them. Understand me, the very truth is that whether in arrogance or in shyness, self is the main consideration. Thinking too much or too little of you is pride.
I know this is hard to swallow for some people. But I came to that understanding a while ago and it has helped in identifying pride in my life. Every time you consider yourself first before others, that is pride in action and we also call it ‘SELF-ishness’. If pride were so easy to identify, more people will deal with it easily. But there remains a deceptive part of it that we seem to overlook. In putting this in proper perspective regarding our relationship with God, let me state it this way. When you put a person before your spouse, you are committing ADULTERY. When you put a thing before God, you are committing IDOLATORY. But when you put yourself first before God, you are living in PRIDE. This is what God cannot stand in men. I will not delve more into a spiritual explanation except need be here. I will do that at other fora. But many more people are really under assessing themselves and not knowing they are also walking the path of pride, while we only think those who are excessive in their display of self worth are the proud ones. I have often found that shy people are the most strong-willed and proud people. This was my case when God opened my eyes to the truth and I began the process of correcting my assessment of myself and seeing myself as God sees me. Let’s not forget that God almost killed Moses simply because he was persistently underrating himself before God. Was that humility? NO! It was a mighty presence of PRIDE. Let me stop here.