by Elaine Helms
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips . . . each is tested by the praise accorded him,” Proverbs 27:2, 21 NASB.
When I was in real estate, I learned fast that I needed to let people – potential clients – know about my accomplishments and why I would be their best choice to help them buy or sell their home. The better I did, the more the company praised me and promoted my expertise. The problem arose when I began to read and believe my own press. I thought, “Yes, I am pretty wonderful!”
God gave me the test of success and I failed miserably. “The Lord tests hearts . . . The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him” (Proverbs 17:3b, 27:21 NASB).
After I failed, being full of pride, God did not abandon me. He used strong followers of Christ in the same business to be an example for Him and to open my eyes to how to handle both promotional and genuine praise. God began to bring only Christian sellers and buyers, so my focus and conversations returned to and about Him.
Several years later, the wife of a couple I had served in buying and selling several properties, told me how thankful she was – that God put me in their lives when He did to draw them to a closer walk with Him. What? I thought God used them to draw me back to focusing on Him!
How like God to put two truants together to help each other get back on track with Him! We both laughed when we discovered what He had done, and agreed that God has a sense of humor.
God had called me out of real estate into church prayer ministry by that time; but being in full time Christian ministry does not exempt us from pride. Spiritual pride can also quickly slip in when God gives us an added measure of His Spirit to speak His word boldly or to impact a group. Name recognition grows the more God blesses…and His testing begins again!
How can we navigate the temptation to pride? Jesus gives one answer in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:16, NASB, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Go Back to the Basics
We can ask God to help us focus on His glory rather than our own. Reading the Bible and spending time with the Lord in prayer helps us be alert to the allure of pride. Memorizing Scripture can fill our thoughts and illuminate when we puff up our own image.
Practice the Presence of God
By practicing the presence of God we can consciously keep God on the throne of our hearts. It’s important to remember who is in control and who is giving us the power to do anything meaningful. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, self will become less important (see Matthew 6:33).
We can take our attention off of ourselves by trying to help someone else succeed. It all belongs to God and when we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us in the proper time (see 1 Peter 5:6).
When our focus is on God and not on ourselves, pride loses its grip on us and it becomes easier to give the glory where it belongs – to God.
About the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham 2012-2013, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership.
The 10th Anniversary edition of her book, Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know was released in 2019. This comprehensive guidebook helps with discovering how to pray as God intends – with eternal impact. Journey through Scripture, find inspiration in stories of others, and learn simple yet effective strategies for prayer. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org
Join the conversation: What is your best tactic for avoiding pride?