Archive for the ‘pride’ Category

Personality

September 2, 2022

It’s 3 in the afternoon (15:00). I finished my workout and breakfast and sat down to write at 9. But since it is soccer season and I never know what emergency I may face, I scanned email. Oh, joy! There was a long email sent to the state sports administration. That created all manner of interpersonal conflicts that required a quick response. Then a second one. This soccer season (in its second week) is shaping up as one of conflicts.

The problem? It really boils down to a simple initial personality conflict that expanded to a full-page memo to the state. It needn’t have gotten that far.

How often we offer a quip in a moment that we think is cute or funny. And, how often that quip is received in a manner different from what was intended. And feelings are hurt. And things grow. And now people are not speaking to each other. And now they talk about the other person to third parties. And it grows and grows like mold on your onions in the pantry.

It could have been stopped. I can still see Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife in the old Andy Griffith show on one episode where he said, “Nip it in the bud, Andy. That’s it. You gotta nip it in the bud. Nip it in the bud.”

Yes. A lesson for us all. Nip it in the bud. Don’t let it sit and mold and spread disease everywhere. Fix it now.

Knowing Your Soul

July 8, 2022

Every time there is an incident it happens. For every politician or executive in the news, there it goes again. For when the crazy neighbor complains again on the community Facebook page. For all of these, we (and the crazy media) love to speculate about the psychology, the inner thoughts and fears, the soul (or lack of) within that person.

I picked up this thought from the writer Virginia Woolf, “We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others.”

Yes, hubris pops up everywhere. Hubris, that feeling that we know everything about everything. We can psychoanalyze anyone from a distance. We can know the state of someone’s soul by reading about them on social media.

We assume we’re OK. We assume we’re not OK. Either way we are wrong. And right.

Our actions reflect the state of our heart. If we were to step back from ourselves and look at our actions as though we are outside our bodies, what would we see? Would we look like someone who possesses the heart of Jesus? Would we look deranged? Do we really know enough about ourselves to pass judgement on another?

Probably not. There is where our work lies.

Emphasize How We Are Alike

July 6, 2022

More people recognize the dangers and evils that lie in divisiveness. They talk about it more often in public. That in itself is a triumph. Trolls are everywhere to swamp your comments with, well, divisiveness.

Why I wonder do we devote so much effort emphasizing how we are different from one another. And why those on the other side of the dividing line are evil, bad, very unlikable versions of humans.

Our wish to feel superior to others forms the substructure of this attitude.

Christians specialize in dividing themselves from those who are not. But also so do those of other faiths–Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, nothings, and on and on.

Even within Christianity love divisiveness, there are liberals, mainstream, evangelical, reformed, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal (if you haven’t spoken in tongues, are you even saved?)–I think I could probably go on.

Christians who worship in all manner of forms and who hold some tenets stronger or weaker all have one thing in common–Jesus. Thinkers have devoted way too much time figuring out just who or what Jesus was. But at least all agree he existed. That’s a start.

Thomas Merton (one of my spiritual heroes) found common ground of contemplative Christianity and Buddhism. And, after a lifetime of experience, I agree with his path. He was on to something.

I bet that if we tried that we could find more common ground. But we would have to lay aside our pride, and our fears, and open our eyes and hearts. That’s not impossible. But it’s hard.

Changing

September 10, 2021

Sometimes we change–and we don’t change. Or, we change one vice for another.

Perhaps we are a judgmental, abrasive type of person. We “become a Christian.” And we become a judgmental, abrasive Christian. Know any of those? What would Jesus think?

Perhaps we gain the virtue of humbleness. But then we become proud of our humility.

Self-awareness becomes the key to change. When we gain the ability to see ourselves, only then can we become the change we seek.

When I Comes Before We

July 12, 2021

The teacher on the podcast I listened to this morning on my walk around the ponds mentioned that problem—when I comes before we.

Evagrius Ponticus, a 4th Century Christian monk and teacher, early in his Praktikos writes about the eight kinds of evil thoughts. The last he addresses is pride.

The demon of pride is the cause of the most damaging fall for the soul. For it causes the monk to deny that God is his helper and to consider that he himself is the cause of virtuous actions. Further, he gets a big head in regard to the brethren, considering them stupid because they do not all have this same opinion of him.

Evagrius Ponticus, Praktikos

I have seen this affect others in a negative way destroying relationships and respect. But that is hardly the key. Most important it is our ability to see this within ourselves and to “nip it in the bud” as the saying goes.

Anger follows this, according to Evagrius. If we pay too much attention to media, we may think of anger as the description of our culture. Anger from pride or anger from fear.

As we nestle with God in prayer and contemplation, seek release from pride and then from anger. Ourselves and everyone around us will be the better for it.

Why Is It So Hard To Submit To God?

May 20, 2021

I’m reading in the letter from James in the Christian Bible. This is one of those pieces of spiritual writing that is so dense with thought that you could take months just going from sentence to sentence.

He is talking in the passage where I’m at right now about how God yearns to see his spirit at work in us.

I love that phrase. How packed with meaning.

James relates that to our human resistance, called pride. And he talks of the opposite of pride, namely humility.

The study guide asks us to consider, “Why is it so hard to submit to God?”

I’m not going to suggest an answer. We know the answer within us if we but pause and look.

For some reason, I am prone to wondering about people. I wonder about how people whose pride has driven them from prominent positions to the depths. How do they live with themselves and their family? What do they do all day? Sit and brood? Act as if they are wronged and get worse?

This has happened to many men and several women over the past few years.

But more to the point–what about me? At what point is my pride still in the way? Do I feel the need to justify myself? Do I need to promote myself? Pride is so insidious.

The other part of this passage from James says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

That is the goal.

Pride and Power

April 16, 2021

Power seems to draw out the latent personality tendencies within us.

Think of people you have known or read about who achieved some level of power–political, organizational, familial–and whose basic personality came out.

Some leaders use the power to satisfy sexual lust that had lay hidden and eventually caused a downfall. Some have seen their pride cause them to lose their way and alienate those around–even to the extent of losing power and even winding up in jail.

On the other hand, sometimes power draws out hidden strengths. Think of people who have been thrust into powerful leadership positions whether in government, business, church. They stepped up to the challenges often surprising all but their closest friends.

Self-awareness becomes important. We must see those tendencies. We must deal with them before the negative ones cause our downfall.

Sometimes I think that Wisdom literature such as the Proverbs or the letter of James lead me to believe that there is no hope for the prideful. I hope not. Although I’ve seen many prideful people in positions of power who seem unable to come to grips with their own pride following a fall.

A lesson for us. In our daily meditations, take some time regularly to do a self-check. Have people been dropping hints that perhaps our worst tendencies are showing in our leadership? Or have our strength and vision and humility come through?

Pride

July 15, 2020

“No matter what the topic of the sermon was,” my friend told me, “the preacher always turned it into a talk on sexual sin. Then one day he left town with the wife of the chairman of the Board of Deacons.”

An acquaintance of mine maintained a constant refrain of “Praise Jesus” and otherwise seemed over the top with verbal spiritual exclamations. Given an opportunity he had an affair and left his wife. Then he was angry when people looked for a sense of repentance feeling he had done nothing wrong.

This week yet another prominent evangelical teacher and church leader felt the sting of a reversal of the publicity that evidently he craved when it was the other way. He showed righteous anger a couple of years ago while condemning his former boss and mentor. Now the flying fickle finger of fate points at him.

At first he and his board of elders tried to finesse the problem away. Give a half-hearted and quick acknowledgement of a “wrong decision” and then just continue on as usual. Except—when you’ve made yourself prominent, people are watching. And secrets eventually come out. I anticipate another quite public forced resignation of a pastor and the board.

The question really isn’t about such leaders. It’s about us. We all harbor some amount of pride. Ancient people knew the destructive power of pride. Yet, even those who teach about it fall by it.

It is worth looking in the metaphorical mirror daily and trying to answer truthfully the question of at what point during the day did I let pride interfere with my humility. It’s not if, but when. And what am I going to do tomorrow to defeat it.