Have you ever heard someone say they didn’t enjoy a specific sermon or study because they didn’t learn anything from it? Have you ever said that? I have. I don’t think this thought is necessarily bad in and of itself, but after thinking it over, I do believe there is something a little off with this mindset. I understand are instances where a lesson is very basic due to being geared toward a different demographic. However, I have also come to believe that a little bit of pride in the midst of a willingness to learn can hinder someone from discovering a fresh perspective/lesson from a seemingly basic study.
All of these thoughts led me to ask myself this question: is it possible to be eager to learn while also possessing an unteachable pride?
While mulling this question over, I couldn’t help but think of the story of the rich young ruler. This was the young man that asked Jesus what he had to do to gain eternal life, but couldn’t bring himself to let go of his many possessions to inherit it. While this whole passage has so many good takeaways you could focus on, my mind centered in on the middle part of his conversation with Jesus.
Here is where the passage begins:
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mark 10:17-18)
At the beginning of this encounter, he approached Jesus with great humility (kneeling down) and with an honest question. The young man had an eagerness to learn, even if his motives weren’t completely pure.
Jesus then answers the young man by reminding him of the commandments. This is the part of the conversation that caught my attention.
Here is how the conversation plays out:
“‘You know the commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ 20 And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’” (Mark 10:19-20)
There it is. This is where an eagerness to learn and an unteachable pride cross paths. When the question was answered, the young man believed he had no room to improve. In other words, he believed there was nothing he was able to learn from this lesson. Part of the definition of the word pride is to have “satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.” He apparently believed he had achieved a lot in this area.
If we truly believe we can’t learn something because we are already mature in that area or that it wasn’t deep enough, there is a possibility our eagerness to learn is becoming strangled by our unteachable pride.
I can look back at my life and see times where I have had the same attitude as this young man. I had an eagerness to learn, so I sought out different people, books, podcasts, etc. But there were times when I would believe that a specific study or lesson didn’t have anything for me because I believed I had already excelled in that area. Looking back, I can’t believe I saw it this way!
Overall, I believe it is possible to be eager to learn while also having an unteachable pride. I also believe pride will always win that struggle unless it’s intentionally laid down daily.
There will be times when someone teaches us a concept that we believe we already have down. There will be times when someone teaches us something that we already know. When those times present themselves, I want to see them through a new lens. I want to be aware of my own potential pride so that it is not standing in the way from me learning. I want to be aware of it. I want to repent of it. I want to be able to see the beauty of a seemingly basic lesson so I can allow it to give me a fresh perspective. I want to be both eager to learn and teachable in the midst of even the simplest of truths.
Let’s no longer assume we have humility because we have a desire to learn. Let’s no longer allow our unteachable pride to get in the way of our eagerness to learn. Let’s lay down our pride and walk in humility.
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (John 4:6)
5 Replies to “Prideful Humility”
Good points, thanks! Could be also we have teachable humility in some areas but have a big old stronghold that we are protecting like the Rich Young Ruler did as well. Lord tell me what to do? Wait, no I can’t do that. We really cannot serve two masters.
Right on, Tiffany. I love the question you pose and so agree that we can be pridefully humble. That’s a topic my husband and I have been digging into lately. I think we fall into this as soon as we think of knowledge as something to “arrive” at, instead of something that can expand and be refined as it is an ongoing process. Thanks for the wisdom and clarity on this!
Great stuff! I think “pridefully humble” is a great description of what can happen in our hearts. I know there have been times I have fallen right into that category! I think MBETHANY’s statement, “I think we fall into this as soon as we think of knowledge as something to “arrive” at” is on point, too! Thanks for sharing this and giving me something to pray on!
I agree with this wholeheartedly. We will learn forever if we’re open to it. That saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is totally untrue- “You can’t teach a stubborn, prideful dog new tricks” might be more fitting for us 😀 I have a friend that can be very hard to talk to because she thinks she is always right and is always giving advice (sometimes where it is unwarranted). I have learned to take her perspective, take what applies to me and find the good and leave the rest. The same can be said for sermons we do not love. Although, I think it also depends on the church. If we’re consistently unhappy with the sermons, it might not be the right church for us!
Ouch. I’m guilty of this! I’m eager to learn, but I have been known to tune out when something is too basic. This after I’ve said that we should be able to learn from any sermon! Thank you for the heart check!!