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Pride vs. Humility in the Conversation about Self Worth
Oh self-worth.
Such a fun and contentious topic both in and outside the church.
I think conversations about self-worth can get a bad rap in the church because of confusion about the nature of pride and humility, so I think that’s where we need to start this month.
What is pride and what is it not?
What is humility and what is it not?
Pride is the root from which so many sins grow, and essentially it stems from a faulty sense that we are above God – that we do not need him and are self-sufficient, deserving praise ourselves rather than praising God. It shows up in rejecting his grace, refusing to live by the laws he has given us, and putting our own will before his.
The confusing part about pride is that it doesn’t always look like thinking you’re better than God.
Sometimes pride lives in what I like to call its “shadow form“ - thinking that you are singularly worse than everybody else, or that God‘s love and grace is inaccessible to you alone, which might not seem like pride right out of the gate, but remains prideful because it is again rejecting the truth of what God has said and embracing instead your own will - even if it is not enjoyable. Rather than giving God His due praise for the wonder of you, you run yourself (God's handiwork) through the mud.
And so that brings us to humility.
What is humility? Essentially, humility is the ability to embrace what God says with abandon - about the world, about you, about himself. It means you accept the fact that you are not in control. It means you accept the fact that God loves you. It means you accept the fact that God is good even when you can’t see quite what he’s doing.
So let's circle back to self-worth now. I cannot even count how many times I have heard people bash conversations about self-worth because it “encourages pride.“
This grinds my gears in an epic fashion.
Here’s the truth: like I said above, humility rests in excepting everything God says, putting it above your own will, thoughts, and feelings, and embracing it as the truth. That’s why we hold up Jesus' mother Mary as one of the most perfect examples of humility: she responded to God‘s decree that she would bear His son with surrender and abandon to his will, not responding “Why would you pick me? I’m such an unworthy, undeserving person...“
And yet so often we think that that’s what humility is about - seeing ourselves as some kind of trash before God and somehow loving Him by rejecting everything that He says about us? (I don't know about you but I don't feel very loved when my kids do the exact opposite of what I asked them to do.)
We are lowly before God, that is true. But it’s also an incredibly partial treatment of what God has to say. God also calls us beloved, children, and speaks about us with the words of a good Father. And what hurts the heart of a parent more than hearing their children denigrate themselves, call themselves worthless, and reject all the beauty and goodness within them?
This is why it is so essential that we have the conversation about self-worth. It’s not about the fluffy, you-go-girl, know-you’re-the-best-thing-ever secular platitudes we see so often on the Internet, but that does not mean it is not important. It's not coming from talking yourself into it, it's coming from accepting what you are offered by God.
Again, like everything we talk about here at Pink Salt Riot: it’s about coming into alignment with what is actually true, because what is true is inherently of God.
It is true that you are loved.
It is true that God calls you worthy.
It is true that you are really and truly a member of his family.
There is no virtue to be found in rejecting the truth. And so the work before us is to evaluate what needs to be done to bring where you are at right now into alignment with that truth.
So let’s get after it.
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