Does Pride Get in the Way?

Nick & Chelsea HurstBy Nick & Chelsea Hurst9 Minutes

Excerpt adapted from Marriage Minded: 10 Ways to Know If You’ve Found the One by Nick and Chelsea Hurst

I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and I was trying out for my school’s baseball team on a warm Florida day after school. I was exceptionally nervous and excited. I remember getting to the field and warming up with some of the guys who had been playing for years. I truly felt like I was better than them in certain areas, even though I had only picked up a baseball for the first time about three months prior. As we went through our warm-up drills, I noticed my partner throwing differently than I was used to. I swiftly corrected him by giving a firm “Clean it up—these throws are useless!” Little did I know, my throwing partner played on the varsity team his freshman year and had nine standing college offers at the time and a private ex-MLB coach. He was doing specific warm-up drills that would help stretch ligaments in his arm throughout the afternoon. Whoops.

As we got into our tryouts, we began by running bases. I nailed this. Next, we moved to hitting. I got compliments from friends who said I looked like I’d been playing for years. To say I was feeling prideful would be a massive understatement. In my mind, I was the top gun on the diamond that day. Then it was time to field—the exact thing I had just “coached” my superathletic friend how to do correctly. Everyone ahead of me had solid fielding technique and great throws back to home plate. However, I felt good; I got up to field the ball, and as it sailed to the outfield, I completely missed it. As quickly as that baseball flew over my head, my hopes of making the team flew right along with it. I began sprinting to the field wall to retrieve the baseball, and as I recovered it and threw it back to home plate, I was ten to fifteen feet off the plate—a total miss. I walked back to the dugout in absolute humiliation, feeling the scorn of those whom I had attempted to instruct. And no, I didn’t make the team.

What did I learn that day? My arrogance was repulsive, and I didn’t deserve to make the team, no matter how good I thought I was. The Bible talks about this. James 4:6 says, “But he [God] gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all deal with this. Every single one of us. I believe it goes back to the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to believe that their own way was right and good instead of accepting God’s definition of what was right and good. There was a decision that came about in the brains of Adam and Eve to say, “We know better, and our choice is the right one, and it is better than God’s choice.” This is the first time we see the spirit of pride rear its ugly head in the Bible. Why do I bring this up? Because since that day, every single person has been affected by the ramifications of their choice. You don’t have to look far to find it: Political parties going for each other’s throats because they believe their way is the only way. Church denominations that believe their interpretation of theology is completely perfect, and anyone who doesn’t agree is wrong and doesn’t know the Bible. Influencers who believe they are more important than someone else because they’ve built a following. I’m sure you don’t have to be convinced that pride is all around us.

So why do I feel a need to talk about this with you, especially as it relates to relationships? Because pride can consume your relationship and lead you somewhere you never thought you’d end up. If you can’t yet recognize pride, either in yourself or in the person you may spend your life with, take time to analyze how often motives seem self-seeking. The antidote to pride is humility—our goal is to lead a humble life alongside someone else doing the same. So how do we live amid something like pride and not be overtaken by it or captured in its grips? I love this quote from an unknown writer: “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them.” I would like to add that a person doesn’t become prideful because of the pride around him but only when he allows it to get inside him. You can certainly live in the midst of chaos and pride and remain calm and humble. As much as you can, survey the lives of those around you and make sure you’re placing yourself around others who are gentle in spirit and humble at heart. We have the option to choose our friend groups. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 these profound words that shaped my understanding of this truth some years ago: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” If you are consistently placing yourself in an environment that only feeds and encourages self-centered behavior, you are swimming upstream for no reason, and your relationships will suffer because of it.

I’m sure you can think of moments in your life when you’ve encountered someone who came off as haughty or arrogant. They might have made you feel small and unintelligent, less than, and not good enough. I know this has been the case for me. I believe that having a humble spirit is not only for our own good but also for the good of those we encounter daily. The humble man or woman is not the perfect individual. They are not without flaws or struggles. They don’t hold to a sense of entitlement, nor do they believe that they deserve whatever they wish. The humble one is always looking out for others first and themselves second. They are willing to admit when they make mistakes and don’t make excuses for their actions. They have a willingness to apologize directly and ask for forgiveness. They don’t seek to impress others based on merit, possessions, or accolades. The haughty live a lifestyle that screams, “Look at me!” and search for validation from others. The humble live a lifestyle that screams, “Look at Jesus!” knowing that he is the source of life, joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Taken from Marriage Minded by Nick and Chelsea Hurst. Copyright © (February 2023) by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan,

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