(8) “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ (10) You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ – Isaiah 47:8 & 10 (NIV)
Pride at home and work look eerily the same….just moved to another location.
It’s the same voice of our flesh and the tempter that says:
- “You deserve more.”
- “You can built this yourself…you don’t need anyone’s help.”
- “You’re not getting your fair share.”
Pride is the most mentioned topic in the bible related to the heart and it pervades our culture including our work.
When I was growing up in business, I had one thing in mind at work.
I wanted to lead as many significant departments as possible, I wanted the highest title, I wanted to impress the right people as often as possible to advance my status and make as much money as possible – all for my glory.
Now that I look back, I believe I operated this way because my motivation was fear. I lived with a quiet underlying fear of:
- not meeting the goal at work and being embarrassed,
- not being liked, appreciated and admired at work,
- falling behind my peers at work,
- and a fear of looking stupid in front of others.
With fear as my motivation, I built a wall of over-confidence between me and others.
Over time, we gain legitimate expertise in our work and that sometimes leads to pride and over-confidence. Leveraging our growing work expertise and our internal fears, Satan whispers to our heart at work and says:
- You don’t need anyone’s input; that will make you look weak; plus, others are unreliable and they may take something from you. (fear)
- Your peers are too inexperienced to be of any use to you; you’re much smarter than they are anyway.
- Wait! The person you need help from may see your question as being weak.
- You need Tom to like you since he’s your boss’ best friend.
- You can reach the goal by yourself…by your own strength; otherwise, you have to share the credit.
- You don’t want to look stupid at work; act like you have it together.
- It’s ok to cut corners and take advantage of others – no one will see you – your goal is worth it.
Humility on the other hand, says:
- Even though I’ve done this before, I want to be sure and do my best work; I should reach out to someone else to get their input. I may be missing something.
- I need to be honest about where I am on this new project and let others know; I don’t want to hurt the team in the end.
Pride is about me attaining my goals first and foremost and having a heightened view of my abilities. Humility is about how I can help others first and put outcomes for myself second. Humility is a proper view of myself – seeing myself as God sees me, not as I desire to be seen.
As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
So, today, as you engage your co-workers, vendors, boss and customers, I encourage you to pursue humility at work. Seek the council of others, seek the benefit of the team first, be open to learning and growing and admit mistakes. More often than not, when others see that you are just like them, warts and all, they will be drawn to your authenticity and humility and you will have more friends and influence than you can imagine. After all…your reputation and success are in God’s hands, not yours.
Here Moses reminds the Israelites to avoid a heart of pride and remember that it’s God that has granted them talents, skill and advancement.
“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’
“But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. “It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. “Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 8: 11-20 (NASB, emphasis added)