The roar of the crowd and the applause of thousands have an intoxicating appeal that fuels our instinctive desire to be known for doing something great. As professionals, we all want to do our job well and it feels good when recognition comes our way for accomplishing that goal. However, if we’re not careful, the allure of praise can lead us to chase the one thing that can undo us…pride.
No matter where you look you’ll see examples of people who experienced meteoric rises followed by colossal defeats. There’s a good chance that pride was at the root of these problems. We are all too familiar with stories of athletes, politicians, and high profile figures who let the world slip through their fingers. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart, was not immune to chasing after frivolous pursuits that left him and his heirs with permanent scars.
To the third party observer, it’s easy to look at someone else’s life and point straight to the problem. But why is it so difficult to acknowledge the culprit in our own lives?
Recently, I heard a well-known pastor speak about this very topic. He offered an explanation to the question above. No one likes to be reminded of their shortcomings and we will go great lengths to avoid hearing about the things we know we need to give up. Isn’t that true? We would much rather listen to someone tell us how good we are instead of what we need to work on.
Take the example of a couple of kings in the Old Testament who received counsel from the prophets of God. Saul, full of pride, failed to heed God’s instruction through Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites. Instead he kept a keepsake for himself and traded the approval of God for his own glory (1 Samuel 15). David also abused his power when he brought Bathsheba into his bed and sent her husband to his death (2 Samuel 11). The difference in his story though, he listened to Nathan when confronted about his sin. As painful as it was, David welcomed wisdom into his life and was restored to fellowship with God.
Over the past two weeks, God has put Romans 12 in my ear three different times. That’s how I know this teaching is meant for me. Verse 3 says, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” This verse made me realize that my natural tendency is to trust in myself and my own ability instead of looking to another for help. Whether that wisdom or correction be from a trusted friend, my wife, or the Word of God, it’s hard to look my faults in the eye. But wise is the follower of Christ who admits their weaknesses and listens to wise counsel.
As hard as this may seem, an amazing thing happens when we submit and allow wisdom to penetrate our hearts. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” You see, God wants to use me and you, but He can’t if we refuse to get out of the way. If we seek all the glory, we may get it…for a time. But sooner or later, the applause fades, the cheers go silent, and we are left with a consuming ego that has nothing to fill it up.
We don’t have to live a hollow existence. God has promised to work in us and He can use us in ways that we never thought possible. The question is, will you let Him?
Scott Linebrink was a pitcher in the Majors from 2000-2011. He is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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