The Pendulum Swing
Hello, my name is Terry…and I’m a recovering pride-aholic. The sin of pride has probably been with me since I was a child. I say “probably” because camouflage is one way that sin sneaks into our lives. It hides in plain sight, ducking into the shadows of our lack of self-awareness. And, even though many around us might actually see its effects, what they can’t see is how deeply its roots have already spread underneath our feet. Also, I call it the sin of pride because God’s Word tells us clearly He feels about it:
The Top 6 — No, 7! — Things that God HATES
These six things the Lord hates; indeed, seven are repulsive to Him:
A proud look 😇 [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others].
A lying tongue. 👅
Hands that shed innocent blood. 👊
A heart that creates wicked plans. 🖤
Feet that run swiftly to evil. 🏃
A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths]. 🤥
One who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers. 🗣🗯😠🌩😠
Proverbs 6:16-19 AMP (emphasis mine)
In my case, pride was quietly gathering its strength, feeding itself on events that most people would consider successes. Before I started following Christ, I faced some difficult situations in my life such as early age drinking, additions, destructive relationships and engagements, bad business dealings and so much more. Most of the time, I would just fire up my “you-got-this” engine, willing my attitude into rising to the occasion. And that worked for me, again and again. Gradually, I started thinking of myself as a self-made man. Meanwhile, pride was building its stronghold, brick by brick.
That’s where I was when Jesus found me. Early in my faith, I felt like I understood the “Parable of the Talents” (Matt 25:15-30, Luke 19:11-27), so I gladly offered my “talent” of getting things done to projects where I felt God was moving. It didn’t surprise me when one of those situations yielded a huge financial return — because I already believed that I was that good. I believed in “hundredfold” returns (Matt 13:8, Mark 4:8, Luke 8:8). But, what I failed to understand was that it’s God who gives that increase (1 Cor 3:5-15) — which means that He is the only One who deserves all the credit and glory.
The pride ride was at an all time high approximately 12 years ago in 2005. The church I was a part of was thriving, my influence in and out of the church was at an all time high, marriage and family was strong - everything from the "outside" looked golden! But, it was all a sham. What I mean by that is all my motives were off; my striving for success had become self-serving and ego-driven. The pride ride had overtaken me on all fronts. I had become an ego driven, pride filled leader who for the most part was able to mask and hide this darkness behind a "false front" or good cover. I was a master manipulator. Yea, I was a pretty good guy, eh?
Let's just say it all came to a head, and my world was turned on its side. I had a strong leader and pastor who called it out, challenged me with truth, and extended grace. I was fortunate enough to have some men around me that came along side me in this season who helped me reconcile my significant challenges. My role in ministry changed, my external influence and visibility was turned off and the "pruning" season began. So much was cut and stripped away. I call this season, a 18 month journey through the darkness of dealing with my internal sin. Reconciling and facing the pride and distorted motives on every front. Facing the brutal facts that I had become a pride-aholic and was a master at covering it up. For me, when I hit the personal bottom of this journey and faced my sin directly is when I really started to get an understanding of Christ's love. His amazing grace who saved a wretch like me. Yes, I truly understood I was the wretch...it wasn't that other person who I could shift focus towards. I was the wretch. I needed Jesus' grace deeply and I was broken.
As the dark season carried on and the deep pruning was continuing, I am so thankful I drew closer in my relationship with Christ. This 18 month journey was rough on me and Robin. I found myself navigating depression, and diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. But in spite of those realities something new was being formed. The old needed to be deconstructed and stripped away so the new could grow and flourish. There are so many details, plot shifts and pure God moments I could go into, I just don't have the time nor ability to do them justice in words at this point. But what birthed out of the ashes of my brokenness was the opportunity to join Life.Church and birth a new team with a big dream and vision. What God knew in his infinite wisdom was I needed to be stripped of my pride, and made a new man to take on this new direction. I needed to be willing to walk away and humble myself because of what He was about to do. What God was about to do through Life.Church was so big, so unique and so Kingdom shaping there was no way my pride addiction would be able to handle it. God needed me to be in a place where there was no possible way I could take the credit - he needed me to be poised and positioned to take a back seat publicly and be a behind the scenes builder. God's pruning was followed by His faithfulness and then an abundance of His fruitfulness.
God is so good! May He receive all glory and honor.
I am not sure where my story and journey might intersect with you. It is my prayer that God continues to use this recovering pride-aholic, and that my journey and story can be a light to others. In closing let me circle back to the title - Pendulum Swing. One very important lesson (one of thousands) I was taught along the way is the danger that can come from the pendulum swing. You see our enemy is cunning and smart. As we are being pruned, stripped and sharpened, a way Satan can work is with the distortion of truth. The pendulum once was swung so far to one side of the pride ride and then God started working, pruning and reviewing what can, and did, happen to me was the pendulum eventually swung to the extreme other side. On the other side also lives sin and pride...ironically it just looks like false humility and often times burying your God given gifts and talents. Beware of the pendulum swing after God reveals and restores something in you that is an issue. Embrace the friction and recognize a life lived in the tension is where character, integrity and righteousness is built.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me... For apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4;5c