Pride is a destructive thing. It damages relationships. It can bring down organizations. It has a way of making even the most intelligent person act foolishly. Prideful and arrogant people are difficult to be around. They’re difficult to work with…or be related to for that matter.
And the thing is we’re always quick to recognize when someone else is being prideful. Yet we’re often slow to recognize our own pride.
I don’t have a pride problem. YOU have a pride problem.
And therein lies the dilemma.
But if I asked around, there are likely at least a few people who would be able to list all the ways you act pridefully on a regular basis. And if you’re honest with yourself, they’re probably right.
Pride is a sneaky little sin that creeps into our hearts without us realizing. And it’s something that all of us struggle with in one way or another. It’s part of being human. We tend to think that we know best. Sometimes, we think we know better than God Himself.
Here are six practical ways to kill pride at its source.
1. Speak less and listen more.
Think about the most delightfully humble people you know. They make you feel so special. And the way they do that is by listening to you.
When you listen—really listen—to somebody else, you can’t help but begin to develop empathy for them. When you hear the emotion behind the words, when you understand the story behind the opinion, when you see the person behind the argument, you begin to see a new perspective.
And while their perspective might be different from your own, if you listen to the heart behind it, you can understand it. And to a certain measure, you can feel for it.
When you feel for someone else, it’s hard to act arrogantly toward them. Empathy is the enemy of pride.
You might have a lot to say. But you have even more to listen to and learn from.
2. Cultivate curiosity.
The thing about listening well is that it takes curiosity. You need to genuinely be interested in the other person. You need to be interested in new ideas. You need to shed your cynical worldview. You need to recapture your childlike wonder.
So don’t assume you know everything. Always be willing to learn something new.
And always assume that the person you are speaking with has something to offer you. They might not have gone to as good a school as you. They might not have as brilliant a mind as yours. But they are a person uniquely created in the image of God. They carry the spark of the divine. They have something to offer you.
Make it your mission to figure out what it is.
3. Take correction.
Listen, nobody likes to be wrong. Least of all me. Just ask my wife.
But the thing is that no one is right 100 percent of the time. Or anything close to it.
Receiving correction requires humility. Especially when it comes from a particularly cantankerous source. Sometimes, we need to receive the bits of truth in a critique while choosing to disregard the disrespectful tone that may come with it. Eat the meat, spit out the bones.
In every criticism, there is something to be learned. You don’t need to trust the source’s motives. You don’t even need to know their motives in order to pull out the truth of what they have said. Allow it to make you better.
4. Surround yourself with smart and talented people.
It’s hard to be prideful when you are legitimately not the smartest or most talented person in the room. (And when you realize that fact.)
Prideful and arrogant people typically surround themselves with people who are less than excellent. They have an emotional need to be the best at everything. Their insecurity causes them to drive away the people who have the most to offer.
So they drive people of excellence away until the only people left are the ones who are just as prideful and negative as they are.
And since you are influenced most by the people you spend most of your time with, prideful people always end up becoming less excellent than they think they are. Their pride never lets them see it, but they will never ascend to the heights that they think they have already reached.
Conversely, humble people who surround themselves with excellence end up being sharpened and improved by the company they keep. They constantly learn. They are constantly strengthened in their weaknesses by a team of people who are good at the things they themselves aren’t.
Humble people understand that a community with a purpose is far more effective than a prideful lone ranger.
5. Learn to celebrate other people.
Pride tells us that other people’s success is the enemy of our own. But we need to move from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance.
Someone else’s success doesn’t mean my failure. If you win, that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost. Life isn’t a zero sum game. We serve the God who creates everything out of nothing. He is always able to multiply blessing. So when God multiplies blessing in the lives of those around you, choose to celebrate it.
Jealousy isn’t a good look. And it’s just bad for your soul. If you learn to celebrate the strengths and successes of other people, then you will begin to live abundantly. You will take pleasure in goodness wherever you find it.
Humility is a joyful way of living.
6. Grow your heart toward humility with humble actions.
It’s hard to become something that you’re not. I can’t just change my heart. I can’t just change my visceral responses to situations. When it comes to growing in faithfulness, sometimes the only way to do it is to lead with your body until your soul catches up.
So just do stuff that you know humble people would do.
When you get home from work and your spouse immediately asks you to take out the garbage, even before the door shuts behind you, don’t launch into a diatribe about how much work you do. Just take out the garbage.
When your boss fails to recognize your work, or worse, takes credit for your great idea, don’t immediately jump up to correct them and take credit. Just continue to do excellent work, even if you aren’t highlighted for it.
When you act like you’re humble, eventually, you end up actually being humble.
This is a lifelong struggle.
The road to humility is not a short journey. It’s a lifelong battle against the most fundamental brokenness of our hearts — the fact that we know better than anybody, even God.
This is the lie that has deceived us from the beginning. The core of our fallenness is that we don’t want to be like God. We want to be god. But when we elevate ourselves to a place we weren’t meant for, we cause all manner of destruction.
So choose to fight pride today. If you do, you will become more faithful, more joyful, more effective, and more like Jesus.