Is Pride Something to Be Proud Of?
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18 (NRSV)
Although many people don’t know it, the famous expression “pride goes before a fall” comes from the Bible. Pride was listed first of the seven deadly sins, and Christians worried over it mightily.
Should we still be worried?
Definitions of pride are always changing. The Gay Pride and Black Pride movements promote dignity, visibility, and equality in revolutionary ways. With many liberation movements reclaiming the word “pride,” they’ve made it, well … something to be proud of!
So has pride been rendered harmless, and even become a good thing?
Surely it’s natural to take pleasure from one’s own achievements. We want the people we love to be proud of themselves. When other people are putting you down, pride can be a good thing. But when your pride leads you to put other people down, it’s clearly not. So when it comes to pride, how much is too much?
The ancient teachings on pride caution that we are not always the best judge of ourselves. The word “self” seems to be key here. When your pride is all about you, and you alone, a little goes a long way. When your pride is about your community, it can be a revolutionary force for good.
Admit it. Pride is a powerful force that deserves our spiritual attention. Sometimes we take too little pride in ourselves. Other times we take too much. Either way, pride has power and it can still trip us up.
Open my heart to the possibilities of pride, the humanity of humility, and the freedom to embrace them both. Amen.
Lillian Daniel is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa. She is the author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To and When “Spiritual but not Religious” is Not Enough.