“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
Proverbs 29:23 (NASB)
We all know what blatant pride looks like: that person who brags about everything he has or does, or the person who says she is too good to do a menial task. But what about the people who are too proud to ask for help, disguised behind the mask of service? There are many people who are true servants to others; you know them as the ones who are always first in line to help, whether it’s making a meal for a grieving family, cleaning the church grounds, or serving in a volunteer position. While we acknowledge that service is a humble action, often the greatest servants are plagued with not being able to ask for help for themselves. This is a hidden pride, and as Proverbs 29:23 indicates, it is a danger to bringing a person low. When we choose not to accept help, it is like being “wise in our own eyes” (Proverbs 26:12), and in turn we suffer in a situation AND we rob others of the joy of helping us.
The apostle Peter provides a great example of hidden pride. In John 13, Jesus begins washing the disciples’ feet, and when he gets to Peter, Peter objects, exclaiming “You shall never wash my feet!” (v.8). After Jesus explains to him that he must do it to be clean, Peter then demands that his master, Jesus, to wash his whole body. Peter thought he was being humble in telling the Lord not to help him, and then he actually told the Lord what to do in washing his whole body, all of which placed him above his master. This was not a humble action, and illustrates how we can think we are being humble when we are actually pridefully taking control of a situation.
Commentator David Guzik explains Peter’s actions from John 13:
“Sometimes we show a servant’s heart by accepting the service of others for us. If we only serve, and refuse to be served, it can be a sign of deeply rooted and well-hidden pride.” He goes on to quote William Temple: “Man’s humility does not begin with the giving of service; it begins with the readiness to receive it. For there can be much pride and condescension in our giving of service.”
If you are a servant who has a hard time asking for or accepting help or generosity from others, prayerfully consider what makes it so hard for you to do this.
Some good questions from the Solomon Says study that may help you are:
Let go of your hidden pride and accept the generosity of others, remembering that humility, and in turn, honor come equally from giving and from receiving.