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Lessons I learned from a Pompous Donkey

Pride is a beast.
But it is a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

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Pride doesn’t often hit as something all that terrible. After all, we pat our kids on the head after the baseball game and say that we’re “proud” of them. A smile forms on our face when our boss tells us the same. We get a warm fuzzy when our teacher passes our exam back to us with a wink – she’s proud of that A+…and so are we. Having a sense of pride can be a positive thing. Pride encourages us to maintain standards of excellence and reinforces positive self esteem. As we tell others we are proud of them, it builds up their confidence and self worth as well. So, why is pride something we need to be wary of?

Let’s begin with the wise words of Solomon in Proverbs 16:18. He warns us that after pride comes destruction and punishment. He tells us that God opposes and has no use for the proud (3:34). He says there’s more hope for fools than proud people (26:12). He instructs us to let others praise us and not our own lips (27:2). God’s word also instructs us to remain humble; thinking of others as better than ourselves (Phil 2:3).

Moving on to the definition of Pride. After searching through varying dictionaries, I found words like “conceit”, “arrogance” and “haughtiness” attached to the term. But this was the clincher: “Inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit or superiority”. This is exactly the opposite of humility, which The Bible says we are to possess (Phil. 2:3). Seems to me, plain and simple, that the sum total of pride is completely counter to the kind of woman Christ says we should be. So, yes – pride has an ugly side.


Noble or Defective Pride?

If pride can be both good and bad, what differentiates a noble sense of pride from a defective one? It is our understanding and our recognition of the origin of our blessing. It is our realization and our declaration that every good and perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father (James 1:17).

We must pause and evaluate: do we remember who gave us our blessings, or are we caught up in the majesty of ourselves? Do we think that we are better than others because of those blessings, or do we recognize that God equipped us with the ability to think, perform, acquire…and apart from him we can do nothing?

I think of the image of a lioness proudly strutting her stuff for all of the jungle to see. You can picture it, right? We’ve all seen those women walk by us in the mall, the office – even the church lobby. They’ve got something we don’t – and they’re happy about it. Their up turned noses prove it. They make sure even their nostrils are higher up than ours. It is such a turn off, isn’t it?


Queen or servant?

“Do I think I’m Queen of the Jungle”?, I ask myself.

I’ll keep it real. Sometimes, yes.

I certainly have pitiful pride filled moments. I’ll admit that on occasion I have walked through
the doors believing that I am the smarter, more godly, or most attractive one in the room. I have come to the twisted conclusion before, that I’m somehow better than others, and they should be gazing up in awe at me. My snooty snout has been upturned on many occasions.

What about you?
Have you strutted your stuff through your jungle? Have you hoisted your nostrils up into the air? Do you make attempts to come across more important than you really are? Do you have moments of conceit, holding yourself in the highest esteem; that of a Queen?

Remember – pride comes before a fall.

This is precisely why Jesus promotes and exemplifies humility and servanthood. He knows it’s the better option, and where we become like Him. In her startling book “Interrupted”, Jen Hatmaker bares her soul. In chapters like “Becoming a low life” and “Get off your high horse – Jesus”, her transparency spoke to me:

“Consequently my love for others is tainted because they unwittingly become articles for consumption. How is this person making me feel better? How is she making me stronger? How is he contributing to my agenda? What can this group do for me? I am an addict, addicted to the ascent and thus positioning myself above people who can propel my upward momentum and below those who are also longing for a higher rank and might pull me up with them. It feels desperate and frantic, and I’m so done being enslaved to the elusive top rung…getting to the top requires someone else to be on the bottom…it’s a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back, depending on whether your rung is either above or below theirs.”

Jen reminds us that counter to what our arrogant egos crave, Jesus knew the secret of abundant life awaits us at the bottom, and it’s shockingly peaceful down there. (Plus, no one can see up your nostrils, which I think is a bonus.)

That pride, which keeps us reaching for the top rung, and on our high horses, breeds competition with others – and more frighteningly, with the Lord. You may have found that most women do not want to share their spotlight. But, more crucially, God says he won’t share his glory with anyone. It’s foolish of us to think we can get a piece of that pie. We may try, but we will never succeed without consequence.

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Don’t let Jesus fall off your back.

The first conversation my husband had with my sister’s new boyfriend (now husband) was one we’ll never forget. Dan was trying to describe his job as a worship leader to him – someone who certainly didn’t speak the evangelical “Christian-ese” language we’ve become so accustomed to. It was all foreign to him. Miguel pondered, and then his response went something like this:

“So, you’re kind of like the donkey that carried Jesus to all the people for his triumphant entry?”

Whoa. I guess he knew more of his bible than I had given him credit for.

Stunned, Dan replied “Ummm yeah, I guess I kind of am”.

Miguel continued with the next part of his profound thought process.

“I think that when donkeys get proud and puffed up, they kick up their front two legs and stand up on their hind ones in order to get higher.…so, make sure you don’t let Jesus fall of your back, ok!?”

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We fell silent for a moment, processing the heaviest of thoughts while congregating in my Grandma’s sunny dining room, hovering over the chicken fried rice.

Now, we may not all be a Sunday morning worship leader, but in a way, we are all that “donkey”; presenting Jesus to the ones that surround us. We may not be four feet higher in the air on an actual stage, but our Christ-following lives are certainly on display for all to see. Our actions and attitudes can lead to Jesus’ triumphant entry into other’s lives. But, when we become prideful, and puff ourselves up, we will knock Jesus right off of His rightful spot.

Some days, perhaps at a larger event or somewhere where I know he has a few fans ready to sing along with him, I’ll give Dan a friendly little reminder not to let Jesus fall off his back, and that he’s just a…   “donkey”, after all ;). Really, aren’t we all?

I’ll say it again – pride is a beast; a pompous lioness; an arrogant ass. Ultimately, she’s a liar. She may make you believe it at the time, but it is never worth it to “strut your stuff” for other women to see, if it means you let Jesus “fall off your back”. It is time that we get off of our high horses.

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“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

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