Pride is an Admission of Weakness
The other day, I came across a quote about pride. It wasn’t referring to the good kind of pride, like being proud of your kids or of a job well done. It was referring to the feeling of superiority that is the opposite of humility.
“Pride is an admission of weakness,” declared Fulton J. Sheen. “It secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals.”
On the surface, prideful people often come across as conceited. They may brag about their job, their possessions, their intelligence, or their looks. Or maybe they don’t brag at all, but secretly enjoy comparing themselves to others in order to feel they are better in some way.
A person can even be prideful thinking they possess more humility than most. In fact, many years ago a pastor told me that when he died he wanted “he was really humble” inscribed on his headstone. At first, I thought it sounded good to aspire to be humble. But later, it didn’t seem humble at all to want to be praised for your humility.
After all, a truly humble person would not have arrived at humility by trying to attain it. Instead, they would have become humble through hardship and failure that exposed the truth of their dependence on God’s mercy and kindness. It is only when we are stripped of the illusion of self-sufficiency that our ego loosens its grip enough to admit our need for God and for each other.
The Irony about Pride and Humility
The irony is that while pride masquerades as strength, it is actually a sign of weakness. And true humility, which is never afraid to admit weakness, is where a person’s real strength lies.
From what I have observed in myself and others, pride originates from a deep-seated feeling that we are not _____ enough. So we try to convince ourselves and others it’s not true. But the more we try to build ourselves up, the deeper we find ourselves mired in self-absorption.
The way out of the trap is to stop letting our fragile and insatiable ego run the show. If pride is an admission of weakness that secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals, humility is an acknowledgment of dependence on God that openly rejoices in serving others, and turns enemies into friends.
Humility cares nothing for competition, understanding the roots of happiness grow deepest in the soil of service. Yet, humility is never an end in itself. So don’t decide to be humble; decide to focus on building others up instead of yourself. The more you do that, the more your pride will give way to humility.
Or . . . you can always take the faster route to humility by suffering humiliation. Nothing cuts pride off at the knees quicker than being humiliated. And while it is an entirely unpleasant experience that I am in no way recommending, it does the job rather effectively.
In fact, the older I get, the more I have learned to appreciate the benefits of being humiliated more than I dislike the pain of it. It hurts, of course. But it doesn’t harm. It is pride that leads to destruction, and pride we should dread.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” ~ Proverbs 16:18
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