I would be willing to bet money that if we met or when we met for the first time, your initial thought was not, “Wow, what a self absorbed jerk!” That’s only because I am good at hiding one of my signature sins well.
So here is my confession: I battle a big ego. Not that I think I am better than you, but I just have things figured out. My ideas are better than yours, at best (at worst your’s are just stupid). I have life pretty well figured out and if you would just follow my lead you would too. I know the way forward, but you are still surveying the landscape. I know the answers, regardless of the question. Again, I don’t think I am better than you, I am just think I know what I am doing.
Well, as you can guess this kind of thinking does not win friends, instill trust or reveal a vulnerable heart. Because of this I have had to play a little game with myself. In order to control or hold in check this ego of mine, I have undertaken the practice of putting myself down, engaging in “negative self talk” or verbally abusing myself.
“You suck at (fill in the blank).”
“Look, you aren’t that smart.”
“Why don’t you just quit.”
“Who are you kidding suggesting that!”
“You don’t have clue what you are doing, just shut up.”
“You’ll never be as good, clever or funny as (fill in the blank).”
This was all in the hopes of subduing my ego. But in reality this kind of false humility is the height of egotism. Let give you an example.
A few weeks ago was Good Friday. And this year I was leading 10 or so churches to put together city wide Good Friday service. I had hoped there would be about 3000 people in attendance at this service. The venue I moved the service to was capable of holding more people than I hoped would show up.
But in one of my better moments I asked the introspective question, “Did I want 3000 people to show up because it would bring glory to God, because it would cause 3000 people to focus on the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ or because it would validate my leadership and organization skills to my peers?”
At that moment I had to confess the latter. The next thought that went through my head was, “Great, becuase of my sin of pride, I’ll be lucky if 300 people show up!” I envisioned a 3500 seat sanctuary cavernously empty, save 300 people seated with 20 empty chairs between each person. I thought for sure the service would be a failure, a train wreck or comedy of errors and I was to blame.
But as it is with God, he was merciful. Many of the 2000+ people in attendance were touched with the cost of God’s love for humanity.
Now, did see where my ego was peeking out? Not in my want of people to show up, but after that. My false humility was actually a great display of pride.
Did I really think that God would side line his plan, because of my sin?
Did I really think that God was going to deny people the opportunity to worship him because of my ego?
Did I really think God was going to count the whole evening as a waste because my heart was out of sync with his?
Wow, what a self absorbed jerk!
The realization of my false pride really being another expression of my ego was not revealed to be by God until a few days later. Its just another trick of Satan to get me to remove my focus and attention from God and onto myself.
A better way to deal with my ego is to compare it against God’s power, brilliance and wisdom only to take in the vast disparity. Not so I will despair, but so I will be compelled to the cross of Christ where I find forgiveness and power to be exactly who God created me to be.