After reading the book “Sacred Fire” by Ronald Rolheiser, and his segment on Religious Faults of Mature Adults, I knew I had to do a series on the 7 deadly sins. I begin with “PRIDE”, because so often we act prideful and do not realize it. Read this parable from Luke 18:9-14 You may be thinking, I would never act like this Pharisee!, yet we do, and we aren’t aware of it. We compare ourselves to others all the time. We live in a competitive world. Rolheiser says, “the more we mature, the more we compare ourselves to others and even become complacent about it, especially when they are suffering or struggling. We look at their condition with contempt”. Lets think about that for a moment, perhaps you have a sibling, acquaintance, friend or friend of a friend, that is struggling with addiction, mental illness or pure stupidity (punn intended probably addiction or mental illness) where they repeatedly destroy the good in their lives and add chaos to those around them. Every time you are with them experiencing frustration, are your thinking, “I’m glad I am not like them, Lord, please don’t let me get that way. I am doing a, b and c, my life is so much better. Thank you Jesus!!?” Even if you are not consciously thinking this, deep down you probably are.
We also can deceive ourselves by telling ourselves we are doing things for the right reasons. Our desire to be generous is often fueled by our pride and our deeper desire to feel good about ourselves. I can remember a time when I was leading a young adult group and I felt really good connecting people to each other, their faith and helping these young adults find their way. That is, until it started turning into therapy sessions, for which, I am not equipped and I would leave drained and exhausted every time. I believe it was my pride that kept me there longer than I should have been.
This can also happen with our prayer lives. Sometimes we get over zealous in the role of advocate for others and then lose the meaning behind our intentions for them. Our prayers become stale and without the passion that they once held. Our original intention for good, goes out the window when we replace that intention with the feeling good we receive from the rewards of praise from others for doing it. Our ego kicks on and shifts our good intentions to the “high” we feel when we’re praised, admired and spoken well of. One of my christian girlfriends shares, that when she was in her leadership role in the church and people would praise her for doing it and doing it well, she admitted that she liked it too much, it felt really good. She says, “I get myself puffed up with pride, eventually I had to step down and now I miss it and I struggle with my heart that desires it back.”
There is also the pride of not letting others give to you when you really need it. Accepting gifts and acts of charity from another is not an act of weakness, don’t let pride deprive someone of giving. I experienced this with my son. He was struggling to survive a brain tumor and aneurism and I was too concerned with people knowing my business and treating me differently. Luckily, I put my pride aside in order to allow people to pray for his healing and help me take care of my other children at home. And there’s the need to always be right? Never giving up an argument, because you have to teach or enlighten the other person who you believe to be wrong. How many of us are guilty of that with our spouses, friends and co workers?
Humility counters pride. “Being in humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” C.S. Lewis. Putting others needs ahead of our own is living the Gospel. It’s the mindset and spirituality of Franciscan servant leadership. This is what Jesus exampled by washing the feet of his disciples in John 13:1-20. How else could Jesus’ be able to wash the feet of an enemy that he called friend. I challenge you this week to notice those times you act with pride and replace it with humility and see what happens. You may find yourself at the confessional door.
OPEN FLOOR: I have given just a few examples of pride, I am sure that you can think of many more. Please feel free to add to them in the comment box below. You never know, your input could help someone overcome their stumbling block to spiritual maturity.
“True humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue.” ― Martin Luther
“When you think yours is the only true path you forever chain yourself to judging others and narrow the vision of God. The road to righteousness and arrogance is a parallel road that can intersect each other several times throughout a person’s life. It’s often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity. The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“The common man prays, ‘I want a cookie right now!’ And God responds, ‘If you’d listen to what I say, tomorrow it will bring you 100 cookies.”
― Criss Jami