Empty Pride


There are numerous examples in the Bible about pride and its consequences on the lives of leaders and followers.  And, having worked over the years with hundreds of leaders, and having interviewed over 5,000 of them, I have seen so many leaders like those in the Bible.  I have witnessed their disgrace, as written in Proverbs 11: 2 (ESV); “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble wisdom.”  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”  And pride prevents you from serving God.

If you are a leader, and you like the spotlight and think, “I have arrived,” it might just be time to do a self-analysis. Are you feeling entitled to all the trappings of your position?  Have you stopped listening to others?  In Proverbs 13:10 (ESV), it is written, “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”  If pride is consuming your life, who do you turn to for counsel and advice?

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3 (ESV); “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Several years ago, I was coaching a young, first-time manager.  I quickly discovered that his perception of his role was that of the leader, who sat on a pedestal and others bowed to him daily.  His team members were coming to me, sharing their frustration with a leader who did not listen, took personal credit for all achievements, and lacked personal accountability.

In our next coaching session, I shared with him what I was hearing from his team members.  He became very defensive, rejected every concern, and took no responsibility for his behavior.  Pride was alive and well in him.  Then I shared servant leadership with him.  I used the inverted pyramid as an example.  I explained how he must step off the pedestal and begin to serve others.  From his nonverbal behavior, it became obvious that I was not close to breaking through his self-pride.

I would like to tell you a success story, but I cannot.  His pride was so strong he was totally blind to reality.  His insolence was causing strife in the organization and destroying the team.  What about you and your pride?

How does pride manifest itself in you?  How do you know pride is taking control of you?  Here are some clues.

  • You are not listening to others.
  • You love the spotlight, a feeling of importance.
  • You have a dysfunctional team.
  • You lack any semblance of personal accountability.
  • You do not do any self-analysis.
  • You have no one to turn to for advice.
  • You are not honoring God and trusting in His power.

What can you do?

Begin with Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV), “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.”  In other words, get advice.  That is what we do in our Convene Forum and Genesis Groups with peer-to-peer coaching.

Secondly, it is time to pray.  Consider praying as written in Psalm 25:4-5 (ESV): “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”  Trust God and pray for Him to keep you humble.

A leader full of self-pride turns people off, destroys the team, and keeps the organization and its people from ever achieving their full potential.  Yes, you and your self-pride have arrived, but look around and survey the destruction, the emptiness.  As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “For Pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”  Empty pride.