Pride in Your Work Is No Sin

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Pride is the sin we least like to see in others, and the one that we least notice in ourselves. No one wants to hear others talking about their accomplishments ad nauseum, but we give ourselves free rein to share the fascinating things we've had a hand in doing. According to the theologians, pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins. But unlike lusty escapades or greedy embezzlement, pride is not condemned outright by the work culture in which we live. In fact, many of us view our resume as a compendium of what others should most marvel at among our many achievements.

Pride puts us at odds with Jesus, whose sinless character he himself summed up in these words: "I am gentle and humble of heart" (Matt. 11:29). Pride also puts us in competition with everyone at work, for pride is a zero sum game. If my coworkers are outperforming me, so much the worse for my feelings about myself and them. On the other hand, if I am doing superior work, I feel justified in grabbing the credit.

While there is no call for being prideful about ourselves, there is a desperate need for us Christians to take pride in our work. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, God not only wants us to do good works, he wants us to do good work. When our Lord made wine from water, it was so good that even the wedding director felt the need to comment. Unfortunately, in most churches we have confused sinful pride about ourselves with godly pride in the work we are called to do. Why do so many Christians suffer through church programs that are sincerely awful? Because so many churches fear that striving for excellence would lead us into pride. They avoid that temptation by settling for mediocrity.

The right balance is of course struck by our Lord. He made the best wine, but used it as a "sign" (which is what John's gospel calls it) that God's kingdom was coming in its fullness. Outstanding work is a signpost pointing to God because it manifests the goodness and overflowing excellence of God's kingdom. Joe Namath was not at his best as a theologian when he said, "It's not bragging if you can do it." The fact is, it's not bragging if you give God the credit—not just in public, but in your heart of hearts. Excellence and achievement don't give us bragging rights against other vintners . . . or teachers, artists, doctors, or whatever our particular area of good work might be. Instead, St. Paul's command guides us: "let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." We have reason to be proud of what we do in the high calling of our daily work, and reason to be humble, since it is God "who works in us both to will and to work" (Phil. 2:13).

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