Monday, February 02, 2009

Pride Is... What?

Stand tall, don't you fall.
Oh, for God's sake don't go and do something foolish.
All you're feeling right now, is silly human pride

(Lyrics from "Stand Tall" by Burton Cummings)

OK, I don't have this song in my iPod library. I don't actually like this song. I find it kind of corporate-marketing-meeting cheesy. That of course is just my opinion (I don't have any Bruce Springsteen songs in my collection, either...). But there's something in the verse about the "silly human pride" that's worth a look. A careful look.

What does the word "pride" mean, anyway? I'll bet if you took a person-on-the-street poll, you would get answers like: "Someone who can't say she's sorry." And that would be correct. Or, "Someone who can't accept help." And that would be correct. This is probably the popular, normative understanding of the word. But as it relates to what God finds upsetting in the spirit of the creature, is there more to the story? Have we taken a truly reviling and ignoble human quality... a mortal fault... and turned it culturally into a kind of euphemism? Narrowly defining it such a way that we miss the point of what it is that leads God to allow for sometimes painful correction in our lives?

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

I was trying to sketch out a kind of "trajectory" of what precipitated some legendary "falls" in the Bible. To see if there is a pattern of some sort. I looked at Satan (who was of the highest angelic order before he fell), Moses (who had a top job but wrestled with "people" issues), David (who defied God and counted his men and also sinned with Bathsheba), Solomon (who amassed a fortune and turned his affections to pagan women). There are lots of other falls, of course, but here we have a sample for illustrative purposes. All those mentioned got to the top of something. Is it possible that, like a dripping faucet, there was something "leaky" in the ascent that created a heart condition that led them to sin and, ultimately, fall? Could we call it selfishness? And is this selfishness a manifestation of pride?

Pride: noun (from

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc

Larry Crabb wrote an illuminating book called Inside Out that deals with the perils of living our lives fixated on self. And it's popular to assail the problem with "pride" in our Christian walk. "That's a pride thing," we say somewhat knowingly. But, more and more, I wonder if I really have a clue as to how this pride really manifests. And so long as culture has me thinking it's a "silly" or narrowly defined she-won't-accept-my-offer-of-meatloaf issue, am I inclinced to properly deal with it? I'm beginning to wonder if I have a clue as to what pride really looks like... and that's, uh, scary.

Question: What does pride look like in your life?

On my iPod... _____________. Having a new music deficit!


kreider said...


Sarah Onderdonk said...

i still remember a rolling stone review of his first album: "he sounds like he's singing with a hamburger in his mouth."

hey, i'm signed up for soteriology next semester!