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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

4 Ways Pride Brings Destruction

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

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The Bible is clear that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV) But how does that work? Sometimes it seems that prideful people are the ones who win elections, receive awards, conquer opponents and become rich & famous. Our culture is often attracted to the loud, brash, and braggadocios. This makes us doubt that indeed pride brings destruction.

For example, who can forget heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali promoting his career with statements like this:

When will they ever have another fighter who writes poems, predicts rounds, beats everybody, makes people laugh, makes people cry, and is as tall and extra pretty as me? In the history of the world and from the beginning of time, there’s never been another fighter like me. Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest.

Or radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh bloviating:

  • This is Rush Limbaugh, the most dangerous man in America, with the largest hypothalamus in North America, serving humanity simply by opening my mouth, destined for my own wing in the Museum of Broadcasting, executing everything I do flawlessly with zero mistakes, doing this show with half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair because I have talent on loan from . . . God. Rush Limbaugh. A man. A legend. A way of life.

Conversely, the humble are often mocked and rejected—they’re called Casper Milquetoast, wimps, sissies and “98 pound weaklings.” Former US President George H. W. Bush, had to fight accusations of timidity which, for example, were proclaimed in the cover article of Newsweek magazine on October 19, 1987. The cover titled “George Bush: Fighting the ‘Wimp Factor.’” The allegation was that Bush was too timid to be elected president.

In his eulogy at the state funeral for Bush on December 5, 2018, former US Senator Alan Simpson said this; “Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington DC are not bothered by heavy traffic.”

So, what’s the problem with pride?

Here are 4 reasons why pride brings destruction:

1. Pride causes over-confidence, which blinds us to our weaknesses and can lead to destruction.

A measure of confidence is very important. Over-confidence however is a problem, and it often comes from pride.

When we’re prideful and over-confident, we can overlook potential weaknesses, dangers and pitfalls. We think past success guarantees future success. Over-confidence has led people to take risks that have sometimes resulted in death, in business failure, and in financial ruin.

Yes, pride brings destruction!

2. Pride causes self-focus and repels others.

One of the great lessons I learned reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is that the most beautiful word people hear is their own name. Along with this comes the fact that people love to talk about themselves: their experiences, opinions, concerns, emotions, etc.

Thus, the person who takes a genuine interest in people will win friends and influence people. It’s true. But the opposite is true also: prideful people are self-focused and thus they overlook others in their eagerness to be heard, to share their own thoughts, and make an impression.

Great conversations are like a ping pong or tennis match. The ball goes back and forth. If the ball stays on one side, the game can’t make progress. But many people, after talking about themselves, overlook asking about the other person/s.

One of my favorite comedians, Brian Reagan, has a wonderful routine on the “Me Monster.” I highly recommend you take a few minutes and watch, for laughs and a great illustration of this point.

The Bible tells us; “Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 GW)

3. Pride causes people to reject help they need from others.

Prideful people refuse to listen and learn. There are many things we cannot do for ourselves. But pride brings destruction by deluding us into thinking that we don’t need any help, we can do it ourselves.

The greatest example of this is salvation. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to save ourselves. Yet many think they can “save themselves” by being “good enough” to go to heaven. It’s one of the most ridiculous thoughts imaginable, yet people believe it. Scripture says clearly; “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 KJV)

If you’re not sure you are indeed a Christian, please go HERE to learn how to be saved now.

Other people are so pride-filled they think they can write their own Bible. Instead of believing in God’s Holy Bible, they try to make up the rules for themselves. Once again, the result is delusion and tragedy.

4. Pride is a blinder that keeps people from realizing they are prideful.

Pride brings destruction because it deludes us.

A few years ago, I had surgery to repair my broken finger. I was knocked out by a wonderful anesthetic, but when I started to wake up, according to my wife, I kept trying to say the same funny thing over and over. I simply could not remember that I had said it just moments before.

The very thing that caused me to act foolishly, also blinded me to my foolishness.

It’s the same way with pride: pride brings destruction because it blinds us to our pride. It’s almost impossible to know when we’re prideful. Usually it takes an outsider to point out our pride, but often we are so prideful we reject their assistance.


It’s no wonder that John R. W. Stott said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.” This was the teaching of great theologians throughout the centuries: that pride is the root of all other sin and therefore the worst sin.

C.S. Lewis called pride, “The great sin” and wrote;

According to Christian teachers, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind…it is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began.

Yet both humility and pride are often neglected topics in Christian teaching, articles, devotionals and sermons.

So how can we combat this terrible potential downfall? Here’s what I do: I pray daily that God would help me to avoid pride. I review this verse:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3 NIV)

After reviewing the verse, and my own temptations to pride, I pray this “Humility Prayer” from Andrew Murray’s book titled Humility:

Out of your great goodness Lord please make known to me and take away from my heart, every kind and form and degree of pride, whether it be from evil spirits, or my own corrupt nature; and please awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of Your light and Holy Spirit.

Over the years I’ve recited that prayer and verse hundreds of times. Hopefully remembering these points, reciting this verse and praying this prayer is helping me avoid pride and be humble! Otherwise I’m in trouble, and you will be as well since pride brings destruction!

If you’re not sure you are indeed a Christian, please go HERE to learn how to be saved now.

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