Dear Talented, Visionary, Passionate 20-something,
I believe in this generation. And I have high hopes for what this generation is becoming/will become. I believe that there is an inherent altruism, drive, kindness, harmony and power about the teens and 20-somethings I see around me. With the current state of national leadership, I think most people can agree there are things left wanting. My prayer is that this generation coming up fulfills the great call of leading society to higher and more holy places. I LOVE and speak LIFE over this generation.
But there's a catch. If you are in your 20's, and you have vision for your life, and God on your side, there is one card the Enemy is most certainly hoping will destroy you. While this attribute will seem like it is on your side, it's not. While this characteristic will seem like it's looking out for your best interest, it really will be your downfall.
What is this trait you ask?
I have had ring-side seats to watch pride drive ministry dreams off the cliff. I have watched pride burn a man's momentum alive as he clung sadly to self-preservation. I have seen pride keep a woman sidelined because she would prefer to stay safe and unexposed than admit failure and rally for a second try. I've seen pride single-handedly wipe out the future of some of the most talented men and women I know. Pride is destructive. Fast-acting. Elusive. Cunning. And quite possibly may be the end of your potential.
Here are a few simple thoughts on a Wednesday for safeguarding your life from pride:
1. REGARD YOURSELF SOBERLY
In the book of Romans Paul, (who besides Jesus may hold the trophy for "how to live your life powerfully for the Kingdom") writes: "do not think yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has given you." Sober judgement is something I often see missing from 20-somethings. In general, young adults will regard themselves too talented- too early, too important- too frequently, and too untouchable- too often. In other words, we sometimes think ourselves more savvy, favorable, or irreplaceable than we actually are. As my pastor Chad Bruegman points out: God doesn't need you, but he wants you. I find millennials reversing saying: God may not always want me, but he needs me. We approach our jobs, calling and circumstances then not out of reliance on God, but out of a fierce belief in ourselves.
Paul writes that we should find a better way. To regard ourselves soberly, and not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (notice he doesn't say "think lowly of yourself" only "be sober in how you quantify yourself. BE HONEST ABOUT YOURSELF EVALUATION."). To stay sober, simply remind yourself that you're talented, but not irreplaceable. That you are called, but that the gifting isn't nearly as potent as the reliance on Christ. Stay sober about yourself, and pride will have to find another dummy to prey on.
2. REGARD OTHERS BEFORE YOURSELF
Paul goes on in Romans and says "be devoted to one-another, honor one-another above yourselves..." In general, and this goes for all generations, people normally look to be devoted to themselves. To find ways to receive honor... for themselves. A sure fire way of combatting pride is to always seek out ways to lift up, love, and honor those around you. Put another person's dreams before your own. Offer up your time to help another person achieve more. Affirm another in love and honor. Not only will pride slide off of you, but you will see God bring YOU honor in return.
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE MORE TALENTED THAN YOU
If you want to permanently extinguish pride in your life get around talented people. I mean WAY more talented than you. And LOTS of them. You should feel constantly challenged, somewhat threatened, and at the end of the day very aware that God made lots of people better at _____ than you. And you should feel ok with all these emotions and thoughts.
Insecure people prefer to surround themselves with people less gifted than themselves. They like being the big presence in the room. Secure and humble people love being around the best of the best. In your work environments, your every day friendships and so forth, make sure your partying with the best __________ that place has to offer. You will not only have a more well-rounded sense of self, you will also benefit from being sharpened by people who are better at life than you are.
4. WAIT YOUR TURN
Pride not only whispers in your ear that you are untouchable, it also makes you think you're ready for things that you just aren't.
A young man proposes to a young girl because he loves her and feels SURE he's ready. Against all counsel, advice and warnings he arrogantly strides forward thinking his self will can sustain a marriage alone. Nine months later he is frightened and ashamed, as his marriage falls apart despite his efforts.
A young woman feels ready to lead. Chomping at the bit she looks for any and every opportunity to advance, to highlight herself, while dimming the gifts of others. She sacrifices internal integrity and development, and as a result lands a job and role that eventually crushes a character that was never built in the first place.
Waiting your turn, while hard in the season, pays off in the long run.
As one of the most beautiful examples of prideful zeal turned powerful humility Peter writes this: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and in DUE TIME... He will exalt you."