In my life, I’ve walked a fine line. It’s a thin line between cockiness and confidence. This is a huge driving force in my life. However, I’ve always been prideful because of it, and pride comes before the fall.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18 (the Bible)
I’ve got countless stories, examples, and tales to tell. However I’m going to break down why Pride comes before the fall, and how you can guard yourself against it.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop, thinking about a number of things that are holding me back in life. I’d like to sulk and get angry. But the mistakes and choices have all been mine. This is a story of how pride can affect your life, for the good and the bad.
In Christian circles the word pride is looked down upon, we think of Satan and his fallen angels or the smug businessman that we’ve seen in every Hallmark movie. However, being proud of who you are, what made you, and what you’re doing is okay. As long as it’s legal, moral, and Righteous.
Think of this phrase, “He takes pride in teaching children to Snowboard.” How is that phrase evil? So doesn’t that mean sometimes pride is not evil? In all truth, it really isn’t, and we should take pride in the things we do well. However, when you have too much pride, you become prideful. That’s where the issues will begin in your life, and that’s when pride comes before the fall.
No onto some of my more colorful, or epic failures…
What Is A Haughty Spirit?
When I graduated from High School, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I knew I wanted money so I got a full-time job. Within the first six months of working, I’d more than doubled my pay through raises, and promotion to department head.
I had so much power and trust from the store manager that it felt unreal. I’d been in charge of things before, but never on such a large scale. Things started to go to my head, and I felt that I could do no wrong. I began to see myself as the epic one and told myself regularly that I was the best of the best.
Looking back now, I realize that I was a 19-year-old kid with a forklift license, doing all the crap jobs in the store. Nobody else wanted to do the things I did, and I was excited to be making money.
During this time, I lost my focus on what I wanted in life. My relationship with Jesus had become strained. and didn’t know what I wanted to become. All the pride in my heart, and the freedom I was experiencing mixed together, causing me to go down a slippery slope. I became overconfident, prideful, and full of myself.
Who Said Pride Comes Before Fall?
In the Bible, it states in Proverbs 16:18 that pride comes before the fall. Different translations will say different words, but the meaning is the same. The verse was written by King Solomon a King of Israel and the Son of David.
He had a lot to say about pride. His kingdom was the richest in the world, and he got prideful. Eventually, he turned to God and focused on his wealth and pleasure. While there is evidence that he turned back in his old age, the damage to his kingdom was complete.
Warnings Will Come But Being Cocky Will Blind You.
Some of my friends tried to warn me that I was getting a big head, but those warnings fell on deaf ears. I told myself they were jealous and said regularly that I was the greatest forklift pilot who ever lived. It all seems so stupid now. They never saw me at work, so they couldn’t know the things I pulled off with it. Truth be told I was very skilled at driving one, however being skilled, and being the best are two different things.
At the same time, I purchased an 82 Camaro. It had dual exhaust, extra big tires, and a working police siren. I was constantly making modifications to it, and slowly it became my pride and joy.
I know there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness because I’ve treaded the line for a long time. There were times I got so prideful that I struggled with finding the line.
Pride Comes Before The Fall
There is a place I go to in my mind sometimes. It’s a place where I have complete trust in my abilities, however, I have no trust in the people around me. I become arrogant, and the people around me can’t do anything right. Even if they did what I asked perfectly, I’d find something wrong in what they did. I’d either redo it or make them do it again to fix the issue. Whether it was real or imaginary.
This is a horrible place to be in, and I do my best to make proper choices now to avoid it. However, now that I know this darkness exists, it’s become easier to see it coming and head it off. That’s why I always tell people to know their weaknesses and stay vigilant against them.
On a side note, this is a horrible way to lead, check out my blog posts on the characteristics of a leader if this rings a bell for you.
How Does Confidence Fit Into Cockiness?
This is me trusting in my abilities, and in those around me, and knowing that God is in control. This gives me confidence in whatever project I’m working on, and what my team is doing. This also releases me from a lot of pressure and gives me extra bandwidth to lead. I know where we’re headed, and know we’re working towards it. However, I also understand that God is the driving force behind it all.
Some of these lessons come from leadership skills that I’ve learned over the years. As a manager, I’ve failed horribly (epic lesson below), and I’ve triumphed over horrible bosses. One thing always remains, and it’s something I fight regularly. How much pride is in my heart, and is this pride going to make me lose focus?
While I lived in Jackson, Mississippi I attended a small ministry and discipleship school. This school changed my life and gave me a lot of the skills and abilities I use today. One of the major lessons I had to learn was about keeping my pride in check.
I was a higher-ranking student, so I was put in charge of some of the first-year guys. It was kinda like how Juniors and Seniors in college will help freshmen out. For the first few months everything was fine, and then one day I noticed a shift in attitude. This wasn’t just a shift in one person, literally, all of them had a wave of intense anger toward me.
Everything came to a head one day when we were out doing some sort of ministry, (I can’t really remember what it was). All of a sudden these guys who I considered to be my closest friends exploded on me in a mass of fury and angry words.
When we got back to the dorms, I told them I needed an assignment done by the next day. I said that I understood they were angry and wanted to know what happened. So I asked them to write a paper explaining what is going on.
As I went to my room, I started to wonder what had happened, we had gotten along so well, and I didn’t know what I did.
Pride Blinds You While You’re Driving Towards A Cliff
The next day I received the papers and my boss and I sat down to read them. After reading halfway through the first page, I wondered who they were writing about. It didn’t seem like me, but I remembered these circumstances. “This can’t be about me,” I thought. Then I read an example one of the students had written, it was a conversation I remembered from their point of view. They used the phrase power trip multiple times. In fact, it was the most used phrase in all of their writings. It was like a punch to the gut, all I saw was an arrogant, blinded fool, oblivious to the needs of those around him.
I stood up and walked down the hallway toward our dorm. Apologies were made to each and every one of them. I can’t say it patched things up right away, but eventually, we were able to continue on.
My Pride Made Me Fall
I didn’t wanna get into specifics with our conversation, that’s between them and me. However, I will say the word power trip was an apt description. I’d become so prideful in my little position that I forgot about the people.
This is why servant leadership is so important, when you’re a leader who serves, you don’t have time to get arrogant. You only have time to serve.
When your eyes are opened, prepare for the pain. It’s going to be bright.
Pride In Your Work Will Spread To Your Team
When I moved back home, I started running a produce department in a giant warehouse store. I needed a job and this was in my skill set before I started college. My first day on the job was a huge shocker, the department had extremely low morale, and some of them hated me. I know because they said so.
It took me a few weeks to work through the problems and issues they’d been facing. Then it took a few more weeks for my team to trust me. The previous managers told them what to do, I asked questions and split up the work among the team.
At the end of my first six months, we were a cohesive unit and worked as a team. The pride I took in my work, and leading my team was passed on to the other team members.
Pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when used correctly it can awaken a group of people to do something epic.
Pride Can Cause A Downfall
In my first story, the pride in my heart caused a huge and spectacular downfall. I didn’t know if I could save my friendships, but thankfully they forgave me. During the second story, I wasn’t a prideful leader, instead, I let my pride go, and I became a servant. I served my team. If there was a job they didn’t like doing, I was the first to do it. Eventually, they stopped me from doing those jobs, and they jumped in first.
Pride can be a great tool or a harmful poison. The choice is ultimately yours.
Sterling grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As a kid he loved skateboarding but mostly did street riding. He injured his ankle badly when he dropped into his first half pipe. His skateboarding slowed down after that, but he still loved the sport. While in his 20's he needed to make a change, so he did some world traveling with a motivational speaking group. Through it all, he visited 46 states and 3 continents and eventually lived in Mississippi. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore through the state. He jumped into the fray, helping mobilize support for the evacuees of New Orleans & The Gulf Coast. During the aftermath he helped run a shelter and drove food & medical supplies to affected areas by truck. Currently he lives in Minneapolis, runs his snowboard shop, and shreds Vail Whenever he can.