I Was “That Guy”
The more I seek to follow Jesus, the more I find that pride is at root of most of my sin. Pride has always been something that I would say I struggled with in my life, but I never fully understood how badly the roots of pride had wrapped around my heart.
I have had men confront me on my pride in the past, normally in two different areas: self-promotion and self-preservation.
With self-promotion, I have to insert myself into conversations. I have to share my very limited wisdom on every topic. I have to always share my story. I’m “that guy.” In the end, I only attain the opposite of what I want: I push people away.
In the area of self-preservation, I find myself having a fear of man. I found as a Community Group leader that this was crippling. I would see sin in people’s lives, but wouldn’t speak up in fear of how they might respond. I was worried more about their immediate happiness than being worried about their holiness (which would ultimately lead to true happiness). I would avoid their sin so that they wouldn’t avoid me.
But that was just my pride on the surface. It was the pride that others could easily see. Recently Jesus was faithful to show me that my pride goes so much deeper. He used a friend to open my eyes to my arrogant heart.
The Entitled vs. The Grateful
My friend is a humble man, i.e. he’s pursuing humility by the grace of God. As he talked about ministry and I complained about ministry, his eyes began to well up. He pointed out how grateful he was to be at Mars Hill. “I don’t deserve any of this,” he said. “I don’t deserve to serve here. I don’t deserve my wife. I don’t deserve my kids. I don’t deserve anything.” These weren’t just words coming out of his mouth; this was true humility and gratitude like I had never seen before.
It was a slap to my pride. It was in that moment I realized I have been walking around with a proverbial chip on my shoulder for a while. I felt like I deserved everything in this world and was getting angry when things didn’t go exactly my way. I was living opposite of Jesus who, “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” I was seeking to use the praise of men to serve me because I deserved it (so I thought).
While I had been confronted with these prides of self-promotion and self-preservation, this was the first time I had been confronted with my pride of self-entitlement. I had forgotten that I don’t deserve anything. My heart was filled with arrogance thinking, When will I get to do this? or Why don’t I get asked to do that? or Why do they get to be there but not me? They’re just as sinful as I am, or I can do that!
Christ Digs Up the Roots
It was in that moment that I saw how sinful my attitude was. This man was living in true humility. This man was living as Paul is telling us to live when he says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
I realize now that the root is deep. But I have also realized that I don’t have to have to live a life filled with pride anymore because my identity is found in Jesus. He has already accepted me. He has already loved me. While I have deserved nothing but destruction, he has given me grace and mercy. Jesus has changed my heart, cleaned out the roots, and made me a man who is pursuing humility by the grace of God. I am daily realizing more and more that I don’t deserve anything, but Jesus has given me everything.
Greg Qualls is a deacon at Mars Hill Albuquerque.