This morning I heard a message at church about pride in a way that I had never heard before. I have heard many messages, given a few myself even, but nothing like this. It left me in a good space - Humbled and grateful.
I had been praying intentionally for the past several weeks (after years of passively wondering) for God to show me how to live out His purpose in me. To fully and actively arise. Arise was the word God gave me for 2017 - to leave behind the old ways of thinking and doing and live in a newness he was revealing to me. I found however that in the midst of this years ‘arising’, there has been a powerful struggle.
For years I was considered successful in the worlds eyes. But a hidden mess inside. After a long season of allowing God to clean up that mess inside, I found I didn’t know how to be ‘successful’ without bringing out the very mindsets I left behind. Ones full of trying to prove myself to a world that was always changing the rules. There had to be a middle ground, but I couldn’t find it. Until today.
It is hard to say but I honestly didn’t know how to live confidently without appearing or feeling proud. I feared pride so much that I fled to the other end… shrinking back. But that felt like being a caged eagle - pacing and agitated - desperate to get out and be free to soar.
To arise and live as God had purposed me to be, in a world with so much self promotion, I couldn't sort out how to do that. How to be in the world but not operate as it does. As a Christ follower, I have not been able to figure out how to promote a business, handle self esteem setbacks and feelings of comparison with others without resurrecting the very mindsets I had left behind.
I had only learned in life, two ways of operating - bigger, better, stronger (to survive and be seen) or shrink back (in defeat). I knew there had to be another way because neither of the ways brought peace on any level - professional, personal and spiritual. But I could not see the way - so I have been somewhat frozen. Afraid to step out and afraid to sit still. Trapped.
In the corporate world, it seemed that bigger, better and stronger (or what I have shortened to be known as BBS) is the path to success. Self promoting exudes confidence and success. Stepping on others (intentionally or indirectly) and strategically plotting how to shine at all costs is celebrated as an assertive, goal and success oriented person. I hated that world. I hated that mindset. So, I tried what I thought was the only alternative. Quietly plodding along doing my best... while feeling I was rotting away in the land of the unseen and seemingly insignificant. I thought humility was waiting to be noticed, to be called up.. to be raised up. But that too was not the way and left me frustrated. Back and forth I floundered between bigger better and stronger and shrinking back. BBS had greater success than shrinking but both left me feeling dissatisfied and without peace inside. Not to mention not always positively received.
I was once celebrated as independent, confident, a quick start, a go getter, tenacious and determined. That encouraged the BBS to keep plodding along. But that small voice inside of me said something wasn’t right. As God removed the prideful self in me, I found that the life of being a BBS bull in a china shop was not for me. The alternative option I thought was all that was left. But that too was empty and depressing. I felt defeated and more like a wilted flower watching life and my passions pass me by. I have been frozen in fear of becoming proud and fearing disappearing into complacent nothingness. There had to be another way. But I couldn’t find it. I have been stuck here for three years.
My prayer turned desperate and intentional...
The awesome surprise came this morning. Now, I know that I am not the only one who prays for something and when the answer comes, discover there is so much more in the answer than we expect - and not always comfortable. I had trusted God would answer me. I just had not really asked Him the way I have these past few weeks. To be exact, my prayer was "God, I am tired of being stuck. Please show me how to walk in confidence in the purpose you have prepared and called me to without becoming a prideful twit or staying a scared little girl”.
"There’s no place I can go that Your love won’t find me.
No place I can hide, that You don’t see". - Bethel Music
I didn’t expect the answer to be so simple. It was humility.
I thought my shrinking back was humility. But what he revealed to me was in my shrinking back there was layers of hidden pride. That was exposed this morning during service. A dangerously masked pride fueled not by confidence and a healthy self-esteem, but a storehouse racked with hurt, negative feelings, self and other centered critical-ness. Ouch.
Humility. The middle ground between bigger, better and stronger and shrinking back. Pride doesn’t stand a chance with a humble heart.
All around us the world says step out, speak up, be seen. Christ followers hear distorted messages of be quiet, show 'humility' (that is false) and wait to be seen. Both are full of pride and neither show true humility.
C.S. Lewis said that "Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less”. Touting our accomplishments or sitting stewing impatient silence - both keep our focus on ourselves.
The pathway out is taking our eyes off ourselves and fixing them on God. Loving and accepting ourselves as God does - gives us the greatest sense of self-esteem. Being grateful for our strengths “and" weaknesses, balances us, keeping pride, comparisons and critical spirited-ness at bay. It is in this moment we truly Arise in the fullness of who we are and become fully dependent on God. Don't know how, when or where to share about your business or gifting - ask. What does God say?
When we take our eyes off ourselves, we can see the path we are to walk on clearly. The fog of pride is removed. Clarity revealed. Success unlike we have ever experienced is put into motion.
"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will raise you up” - James 4:10
I didn’t expect the answer to be pride. I expected another answer. Something like a business plan. I was desperate for an answer and God showed up. The answer wasn't to 'get out there' or 'sit back'. It was to get my eyes off myself.
There is nothing wrong in advertising, promoting or soliciting a business. There is nothing wrong with offering your gifts and talents to benefit others. What is wrong is what is hidden behind it all.
Where are you at today? Do you compare yourself with others or other businesses? Do you hold yourself back waiting for someone to notice you, feeling resentment when others get noticed and you don’t? Do you manipulate, force or make a way for you to be seen, chosen and raised up to a special place? Do you find ways to let others know just how special you are while feigning false humility? The higher we try to climb to be noticed, esteemed and valued, the greater the distance we fall. Ask God today where hidden pride might be in you?
"Pride comes before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction" - Proverbs 16:18
Today's closing scripture at church seemed fitting to this blog as well. It truly captures how we can be successful in this world while not operating in the philosophies that it practices.
"the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:8
Don't forget to pick up a copy of my book, "Confessions of a Feel Good Addict"
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