Pride can slowly sneak its way into someone’s life and mind. Looking back, it could have been there in my life for a while, but the Holy Spirit has taken to revealing it to me recently. “According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind” (Lewis, 1980, p. 121-122). Pride pushes out God and drives other bad behaviors, as we read in Mere Christianity. As a result of pride in my own life, I have made things about me. I can frequently be self-focused, looking only at what I can get out of a relationship, or an experience, instead of how I can serve and love others before myself. This has even affected my devotional time, when I look at reading the Bible as what I can get out of the Bible, instead of seeing it as a way to get to know my Lord and Savior. Lewis says that pride becomes a spiritual cancer. He goes on to says that pride will make you delight more in yourself. It becomes a competition and the prideful person will look down on others, instead of caring about them (Lewis, 1980). Satan has always been a crafty devil who twists words, and emotions to convince someone to do something, pulling them away from God.
This deceiving nature starts with pride, and as seen in chapter eight of Mere Christianity, pulls Christians away from humility and living like Christ. One part of the chapter that describes humility, and putting humility into practice is where Lewis writes about meeting a humble man. This is part of knowing what humility looks like while pursuing Christian living, has been somewhat of an enigma for me. He says when you think about him, you will think that he’s a cheerful, intelligent man who takes interest in what you have to say to him. He continues to say the man “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all” (Lewis, 1980, p. 128). This observation about the humble man is so anti-cultural for present day America that when someone acts in this way, it can be a distinct representation of living out the Christian faith. Currently, culture says to focus on yourself, while Christ says to focus on others and place them over yourself.
As an Enneagram 2, I focus on others continually which is a gift, but it can also be a trial, sometimes to the point of losing my own identity and acquiring that of others. As I continue to learn more about myself, I question how I can focus on others, serve them, and not burn out from overextending myself. This quandary is one that seems to be addressed partly in Mere Christianity. “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it” (Lewis, 1980, p. 128). When one realizes they have an issue with pride, they can start taking steps to focus on humility. Christ’s example in Philippians 2:5-11, which Paul tells the Philippians to imitate and specifically Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves (NIV, 2011). When put into this biblical perspective, it seems so easy to simply value others over myself. However, in practice, this is a difficult concept and again, I find myself asking how to put others ahead of myself and not sacrifice mental and emotional wellness by dedicating too much time and energy to focusing on others. In response, understanding personal boundaries for time, rest, and self-care, and taking care of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit are excellent places to steward my body and mind as I move forward in practicing humility. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend best describe boundaries in their book Boundaries with Kids, “A boundary is a ‘property line’ that defines a person; it defines where one person ends and someone else begins. If we know where a person’s boundaries are, we know what we can expect this person to take control of: himself or herself” (Cloud and Townsend, 2001). A boundary isn’t mean, unfair, heartless, or selfish. In fact, boundaries may be the most loving, kind, generous way to live the life God called you to because you are making room for the things that matter to him, while at the same time, taking care of yourself and others. Additionally, incorporating rest and personal self-care as routines to proactively take care of myself so I can serve others is a necessary next step in striving for humility and living out this understanding of the Christian faith.
Chapter eight of Mere Christianity reveals how pride manifests and reveals itself in everyday life, how to become more humble, and how following through with humility allows for a more Christ-like faith walk as a Christian. Not only does this understanding allow me, as an Enneagram two, to use the gifts God has given me as I serve others with how God has wired me, this perspective deeply impacts how I live out the routines that sustain my health, both emotionally and physically. By caring for myself, I am able to take care of others to the fullest of my ability, living out a life of humility and turning away from my prideful tendencies.
Cloud, H. and Townsend, J. (2001). Boundaries with Kids. MI: Zondervan.
Lewis, C. S. (1980). Mere Christianity. NY: Harper Collins.
McCord, B. (2020). Enneagram Type Two. Retrieved from https://www.yourenneagramcoach.com/type2.
Written for my C. S. Lewis class at Colorado Christian University.