God hates all sin but pride is right up there with idolatry and sexual immorality. Corey Worrell, A familiar stranger – May 5 Nation Newspaper
Submitted by Charles Knighton
Children, as well as many adults, would certainly find themselves thoroughly nonplussed upon reading the above, particularly so as they reside in a nation whose motto is “Pride and Industry” (“Humble and Industrious lacks a certain panache). Those who rail on about the so-called “sin” of pride, need to explain themselves thoroughly.
Pride lives a double life as hero and villain. It is condemned as a deadly sin one minute, promoted as an essential virtue the next. It is blamed for making people haughty and arrogant, and praised for enabling the oppressed to stand tall. It’s good to take pride in your work, but bad to be too proud of what you have achieved. The desire to have something to be proud of is a very common feature of being human. A lack of it is a real cause of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. But it’s important to reflect on what pride means to avoid ending up with an unhelpful manifestation of it, or overlooking things we could legitimately be proud of.
The most common source of pride is having done great things, widely acknowledged to be achievements. But perhaps more than things, we should be proud of the effort we’ve made to bring something about, somehow exceeding ourselves, regardless of how big or small the results. A person who manages to complete a degree while working full-time and raising young children, for instance, has as much right to feel pride as someone who has created a business empire.
We could also be proud of performing a task with care and attention, to the best of our ability, irrespective of how arduous it is or how much appreciation we are likely to get for it. In this case our pride is not a judgment about how brilliant we are, but instead concerns our approach to the work to be done.
This kind of pride in how we do things, in our effort or attitude, is positive and always available to us. Being proud of what we are, on the other hand, is static and can easily lead to vanity, to overestimating ourselves and discounting the role other people, or just plain luck, has played in our lives.
It is when we are excessively proud of being something, and become too attached to an idea of ourselves, that we become unable to acknowledge weaknesses, dependence and imperfection. We talk of someone being “a proud person”, who can’t recognize mistakes or ask for help. It is this kind of pride we need most to guard against.