I’ve learned something over my few short years—God tests prideful people in two ways: either He gives them everything they want…or gives them nothing.
For the first several years of college, it was the second case for me. I called it the “wilderness.” It’s like I was wandering through life without one drop of recognition or respect. Stranded in the middle of an opportunity wasteland.
I think that was the Lord was testing my prideful heart to see if I could be content when I wasn’t given any opportunities for positions. Did I learn from that? I’m not so sure…
The opposite started last year. The Lord has blessed me with everything I had always longed for in the wilderness—every position, responsibility, and recognition my heart dreamed of. It looks like He’s testing me in a new way—can I still be humble in the midst of all these opportunities?
Um…no. I can’t. Humility and I don’t hang out well together. Sometimes I think if every prideful thought came out of my mouth, people would call me worse than the Donald. Ouch.
No one fully knows what a prideful jerk I really am. I even try to appear humble in order to boost my pride. Do I have a psychological problem? Or does everyone struggle like this?
I was comforted this past week to hear from a fellow prideful jerk (no, not Mr. Trump). Mr. Tim Googlein came and spoke at my university and told the story of his struggle with pride. From the wilderness of Indiana…to the White House.
He served as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. God apparently was testing him in that second way, giving him everything his dark pride desired. After all, how much higher could you go than the White House?
But you sure can go a lot lower, as he found out when he was caught plagiarizing.
Pride really does come before a fall.
So maybe it’s better to stay humbled in the wilderness than to be exalted only to fall hard. If only I had been content where I was, in that barren wasteland! If only I had realized that true influence comes from building relationships, not climbing the ladder! If only I knew that ministry is more effective by mentoring one-on-one, unnoticed, than by achieving certain lofty positions. If only I could tell my old sophomore self to be content where I was!
But life is a journey of God teaching us hard lessons—and there are no U-turns. He’s taken me to what I thought were greener pastures. And yet my pride is still not satisfied! No matter how much God blesses me with opportunities, I’m neither thankful nor content. I’m a pretty horrible person…
Maybe the best strategy for this journey of life is to practice what the Apostle Paul himself learned: “in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
O my continually discontent heart, my prideful and ungrateful heart…it’s time to give up the ladder-climbing game. It’s time to rest in the grace God has given you, even if you’re stuck in the wilderness. O sinful soul of mine, be content!