When I was growing up, I had a friend who was a great guy, except one thing: he was full of himself. Everything was about him. What did he want to do? Where did he want to eat? Look how awesome his shoes were. He thought every girl was into him. Honestly, it got pretty old. I bet you have known someone like that—someone who is full of themself.
But hang on. Here’s where it gets embarrassing. Sometimes, we’re that person. In the 8th grade, I tried out for the basketball team. I knew I was going to make it because I started on the 7th grade team, so I told everyone. And, cue the lesson from the Book of Proverbs: pride came before the fall! Tryouts were a disaster. I missed every shot I took! The good news is, it’s pretty easy to tell if you’re full of yourself. And, spoiler alert: You’re probably full of yourself. It’s the human condition, but there is help.
Here are a few signs and symptoms that mean you might be full of yourself. Pride can look like:
- Tearing others down, often subtly, just to feel better about ourselves
- Judging another parent because we would never allow our kids to act like their kids
- Attention-seeking, often at any cost, because the compliments from others help us overlook the shortcomings we know we have
- Denying that you need help from anyone else because you always have it all covered
Did any of those hurt? Most of us can relate to at least one item on that list—if not all. At its most basic level, being full of yourself, or pride, is a misplaced sense of worth or value. We look to find our value in our accomplishments, achievements, abilities, our social status, or anything other than the value that God has given us in Christ. Ultimately, the problem with pride is that when we’re full of ourselves, there is no room for God! Our desire to be self-sufficient, self-important, and self-exalting pushes out the one person we need the most—Jesus Christ.
But there is an alternative. Philippians 2:3-5 NLT teaches us that Christian humility is rooted in the realization that apart from Christ, we have nothing to offer God. We do have value, immense value, though. My grandfather used to say, “Something is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.” God was willing to pay for you by sending His Son to the cross. That’s value. You’re loved beyond what you can comprehend.
So, how do we fight the pride that threatens to prevent God from being a vital part of our lives? That’s a question I’ve wrestled with for most of my life. I fought it when I was trying out for the 8th grade basketball team, and still do at times today. I continually seek to prove my value through my achievements and being better than those around me. The two tools that God has used most effectively in my life to bring a spirit of humility are confession and serving.
- Confession. James 5:16 NLT says (my emphasis added): Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. We confess our sins to God for forgiveness but to one another for healing. It’s pretty difficult to be full of pride when we’ve just emptied our soul of our sins. We all need someone in our lives we can trust enough to share our confessions with.
- Serving. Christ served others because He was humble. He can help our hearts to be humble through serving others. You can help someone from a higher position, but to serve them, you have to think of yourself as beneath them. Regularly serving others grows a humble heart inside of us.
When we empty our hearts in humility, we’re in the perfect position to be filled by the grace of God and to be used by Him. Every day reminds me that being full of God, rather than myself, is not an easy journey, but it’s one that brings the lasting value and freedom we were created for.