Is Pride Holding You Back?

Imagine attending a support group, where the first person who stands up says, “Hi I’m Doug . . . And I am full of pride. I am currently resisting God’s work in my heart.” The next attendee follows up, admitting, “Good afternoon. My name is Sally and I am full of pride too.”

Not sure you can sign up for this group, but we’ve could all join it at many times in our lives.

There are couple problems with pride that make it difficult to heal:

  • Pride seeks to remain hidden and undetected so that the person is unaware of how pride is working.
  • Some parts of our culture push to an opposite extreme–away from one from of pride into a self-beating, self-rejecting posture. It’s actually another form of pride, because it rejects the grace of God, the love of God and the new identity you have in Christ.
  • Confronting either of these two areas is almost impossible. The person needs to come to awareness themselves, so they can humble themselves and let grace have its work.

Most people think that prideful people are the arrogant jerks you come into contact from time to time. We can even think that underneath the pride is someone who really loves themselves. When in reality, a prideful person has deep roots of brokenness that are walled up. The goal of pride is self-preservation; keep the wounds and weaknesses hidden. It will teach you to live completely self-reliant and distant from people being able to engage vulnerability with you.

Me, Prideful?

Pride arose out of Lucifer’s rebellion, which sent a shock-wave in the heavenlies. The enemy you battle on a daily basis is assaulting you with the same thoughts he developed to overthrow the authority of heaven. Every believer will be tested to see if they carry the same mindset that Lucifer was found with:

For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Isaiah 14:13-14

For all of humanity, if we do not allow the process of heart healing to take place, we will develop a sense of self-reliance and tell ourselves, “I’m good…I don’t need any healing in my life.” That’s round one of pride’s work.

If that doesn’t work, pride will teach us to do life all on our own. “No one wants to help me. Fine. I’ll do this all on my own. I don’t need your help. I know what I am doing.”

Pride offers itself to those who are broken. It will bring many cover-ups that keep the process of humility away from their life. The enemy knows that if he can keep us from walking in true spiritual humility, he will thwart the growth process in our life.

The Resistance of Pride

When pride creeps into our hearts, we don’t just have a devil problem. We have a God problem. God says that He actually will resist someone who has pride in their life:

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:5b-6

The only way we can develop true freedom is learning to humble ourselves under the hand of God. Deliverance does not occur solely because we resist the enemy, but only when we first submit to God and then cultivate a life of walking humbly before Him. This is often a missing component that many try to skip over.

Under God’s Authority

This process of humility sets us up under the authority of God. True spiritual humility, is all about submission, helping us to walk humbly under God and those He has placed in authority over us. In this journey, humility allows us to become moldable under God’s hand, allowing Him to form what is missing and heal what has been damaged.

Detecting False-Humility

The false humility that many show, where they beat themselves down and self-reject, is a counterfeit to true humility. Rejecting yourself in any way is not a sign of humility.

Those who put on a pious appearance with religious phrases that continually beat themselves down are actually covering up a wound of self-hatred. Walking in humility doesn’t mean you dislike or hate yourself. You’ve positioned your heart under the grace and authority of the One who designed you to be loved. You are teachable, moldable and vulnerable to His continuing work, and it is reflected in how you do relationships.

Grace for the Humble

God has a never-ending supply of grace and empowerment for the humble. But when pride enters the picture, we can expect that flow can be stifled.

God dislikes the work of pride so much, He even says he hates a proud look:

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look . . . Proverbs 6:16-17

God is tuned into the attitude of our hearts and wants to know, in our brokenness, will we take the route of humility for healing or will we walk the avenue of the proud?

God says if you are humble, you will learn a lot by bending the knee. Your strength and energy will come out of how you position your heart before God.  

Recognizing Brokenness

The truly humble recognize their personal brokenness and need for God’s continual work. It does not disqualify their hearts, for they know that God does not condemn them. They’ve learned to rejoice in their weaknesses as much as strengths, realize that God works in them all.

The proud try to do it on their own and keep it covered up throughout. This can create a lot of damage, because the relationships close to the proud person keep getting the repercussions of unacknowledged brokenness. Any attempts to speak truth to the person get met with great resistance and anger.

Pride keeps relationships from being restored. It prevents division from ever being healed. Pride is always more concerned with being right than restoring broken bridges.  

This road of pride is treacherous, and eventually leads to a great fall:

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Satan uses pride to train people to use man-made glue to keep ourselves together and reinforced. This is a core reason why there can be such a hypocritical culture in places. No one shows vulnerability, but instead present themselves to others as though they have the answers and they have arrived. In this counterfeit setting, all people do is focus on presenting strength and success.

No one shows vulnerability.

My Step into Public Vulnerability

When I first started sharing my testimony about getting free from anxiety, I was a Pastor on staff at a church. There was a little bit of hesitancy inside of me; “Oh, people are going to see that you are a mess inside. They’ll think you’re messed up. Do you really want this?”

Now keep in mind, this is in the early 2000s. I did not know many people who admitted they struggled with anxiety. The only person I knew who took psychiatric medication was my roommate. The discussion around mental health, including anxiety, depression and panic attacks was nowhere to be found in church.

So getting up in front of people to talk about my battle was huge. I had to make a decision: did I want to be real or portray an image that would keep people from seeing my flaws?

Thank God I didn’t listen to that voice. Instead, I laid out the details of my transformation and people’s jaws started to drop. One of the biggest things I began to hear from people was, “Now, I can really relate to you!” Before, I appeared as though I had it all together, and now, people could connect to me. They were touched so much by my admittance of my brokenness and my willingness to pursue healing in front of my brothers and sisters. Many felt, “Now, I’ve got some hope. I’m not some crazy mess!”

A major aspect of my healing process was that God had to strip down pride and get me to where I was willing to be vulnerable, teachable and willing to let people see my imperfect journey.

When you strip down the pride, people get to engage the real you, the vulnerable you.  When pride is broken down, we break out of stubbornness, and when you remove stubbornness you become vulnerable. Now you have an opportunity to actually help people because you are not hard-hearted and always pointing your finger at them. When you confront rebellion, then you will become humble, teachable and submissive to authority