Invisible Pride

 James 4:16 
As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

I will start off with a confession of my own. For years I have walked in what I call invisible pride. Obviously the key word is invisible. We all are born with this innate nature that seeks to be noticed and acknowledged, but the pride I am speaking about lives in the shadows. What makes invisible pride so deadly is how it can thrive right along with humility. It is subtle and can cloak itself in good works. (Remember that last statement for later)  Like many things in the world of darkness this kind of pride does the greatest damage because it is deeply hidden.

Most of us at one time or another have known people who are so full of themselves that it isn’t hard to identify blatant arrogance and pride. Invisible pride, as you might suspect is almost impossible to notice to the untrained eye. We live in a world where this subtle pride is a constant part of everyday life. Coming from a background in the business world I have come to know pride very well as it was always deeply embedded in the promotion and marketing of products and services. When telling people about my company I always focused entirely on our good accomplishments and excellence.

Now fast forward many years and as I start my journey in ministry I would automatically find myself using the same practices in ministry as I did in business. Then you add social media to the mix and suddenly I am able to double my efforts to enhance my ministry and all our accomplishments with one click. With every event, every  ministry service, I would make sure that everyone knew what great things were happening, from the number of people who attended, how many got saved, how many meals we served to the poor and all the wonderful benefits provided. People loved it! People got involved, and I received so many complements which kept my personal ambitions alive. Unfortunately I did not see this invisible pride or was even slightly aware of it. I simply promoted my ministry in hope that more people would get involved, support us, and of course, the main reason, give God all the glory, or so I thought.

The first time I got a glimpse of invisible pride was actually watching another ministry doing exactly what I was doing. Many times the Father has to show us what He wants to change in us by holding up a mirror so we can see ourselves more clearly. As I watched this ministry promote themselves on a consistent basis and saw all the support and complements they were receiving it hit me that I had been doing exactly the same all these years.

Unfortunately, this kind of self promotion actually works in the world we live in! It is almost guaranteed that conducting your ministry like a business, over time, those principles will work for you. Did you know that the term “casting vision” is actually a business principle? It is also called, “shared vision,” “visionary leadership,” and “communicating vision.” Using many of these business principles in your ministry there is no doubt you will fill buildings full of people, they will come and experience all that you promote, and your ministry in most cases will grow in leaps and bounds. That is what makes invisible pride so incredibly hard to detect. It hides behind success. Who can argue with success, right?

I said earlier to remember this statement about invisible pride, “It is subtle and can cloak itself in good works.” One of the first principles of the Kingdom of God that Jesus pointed out, when you give to charity or do good deeds don’t let anyone know about it. Just be content that your Heavenly Father saw it and He alone will reward you. Now why would Jesus make this type of statement? Because in the Kingdom of God there is zero tolerance for boasting. 

Look at the ministry of Jesus and you will see someone who lived by Kingdom principles and as the result ends up loosing just about everyone that was following Him at one time or another. Let’s face it, Jesus not only emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, but never once did he even consider trying to share the spotlight in what the Father was doing. If anything, Jesus gave strict instructions to many people after working some great miracle to not go and tell anyone. Go and try that sometime and see how hard it is. Go out and labor for Christ, take no photos of yourself, no selfies with VIP, tell no one how many were saved, rededicated, or received a miracle under your preaching and in a matter of hours you will find yourself in warfare with this invisible pride.

No doubt you will ask, “How should I let people know about what our ministry is doing and how to contact us?” The problem is not giving out information but rather it is when we promote ourselves and our good works, both present and future. All throughout scripture we are told how we are to live out our individual lives by the principles of Heaven.
Proverbs 27: 1-2
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.

James 4:13-16
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Here are two very direct principles of the Kingdom of God. Stop making statements about what you are going to do in the future. James goes even further and tells us that this kind of boasting is evil. I hear so many ministries boast that they are going to plant so many churches in the next five years. They are going to expand here and build there in the next ten years. This sounds like some great business principles if you do not follow Jesus but in the Father’s realm we do not get to boast like that. The Apostle James makes a good point, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”  James tells us that we should rather say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  Saying “if the Lord wills,” takes us completely out of the picture. Nothing depends on our efforts, our strength, or our will, but as with our salvation, it is the goodness and gift of God that we are able to even breathe, let alone labor in his harvest. Just be grateful for today.

Contentment is at the heart of each day. We are to place ourselves under the rule of Jesus and be faithful over what he gives us to manage. We are just stewards, managing the assets of the owner. Each of us are given something each day to be faithful over and we find real authentic contentment in doing that well for the master. We are faithful because we love our Lord and this means that our love for him will never boast in ourselves. As Paul wrote so eloquently, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way.”

Stop talking about yourself. This is the second direct principle of Heaven concerning invisible pride. Take if from me, this is incredibly hard at times. If others want to boast and tell what they appreciate about you then this is good and acceptable. Always make a special effort to take any focus off of you and put it on Christ and others. Compliments, praises, thanks and accolades concerning you or your ministry are good as long as you don’t speak about them. Let others compliment you.

There is so much more but in closing we all fail in this area many times throughout life but as we give more of ourselves over to the Lord, he will work in us the fruit of his Spirit life and as we grow we can learn to recognize this invisible pride that so easily invades our living.

Matthew 6:1
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

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