Thursday, October 02, 2008

Questions about Pride

I do not understand warnings from church leaders regarding pride.

To be proud of personal accomplishment is a great motivator. We attempt and accomplish much, overcome many personal challenges, because we feel some sense of pride in our ability. Is this a bad thing?

We discussed this issue briefly in Sunday school lesson this week. The lesson presents an illustration called "The Pride Cycle".

The outcome of discussion furthered my confusion.

I have even further confusion from popular usage of the term "pride" which seems to have been co opted for exclusive usage by militant homosexual groups demanding normalization and acceptance for their perverted habits. This is obvously not the "pride" I am referring to.

President Benson gave the classic speech counselling church members "Beware of Pride". But according to my understanding, he was one of the proudest men imaginable. I have heard that he favored a saying that was even written down on a plaque that he kept on his desk -- "Be right, then be nice. But first, be right." Something like that seems characteristic of a very proud man. Apparently, Benson was considered stubborn and intractable by many.

I don't know. I think he was a man of strong convictions. But I am confused about how to distinguish between firm, unshakeable faith and overwhelming personal pride. As far as I can judge, it amounts to very nearly the same thing.


Billy Bob Bambino Bombabious Baby the Third said...

President Benson said that regardless of how the world used the term (ie, a sense of satisfaction for a job well done or pleasure at the achievements of a loved one or entity), in the scriptures there never was a righteous pride. Thus, when the Father introduces His Son, He says, "... in Whom I am well pleased" in the same way we would say, "I am proud of my son."

This stance of the Church confused me for a long time, too. I was even afraid to say I was proud of something or someone... But now I realize that he (Pres. Benson) was referring to arrogance, high-mindedness, or enmity, not satisfaction or pleasure. The difference comes when your pleasure comes not from a job well done and goal achieved, but in doing better than someone else (competition/comparison). I think that competition is too heavily emphasised in our society. Let's all just have fun (of course, it's funner to win) - and nothing ruins the fun faster than being a pig about it (whether victorious or not).

Jim Cobabe said...


I see the distinction you are drawing, but do not hear it explained that way at church. FWIW, I agree with your interpretation. My suspicion is that Ezra Taft Benson would too. But I am still waiting for official sanction for this idea from church authorities.

Perhaps I will ask President Benson to elaborate -- next time we have a chance for conversation. I don't think he maintains any internet presence, at the moment.

B. Perky said...

I think the pride the scriptures refer comes when we fail to confess God's hand in all things and claim for ourselves all the credit for the good in our lives.

mlu said...

I can't quote anything, and it's late and I'm tired and I hit something on the way home and broke a tire and need to figure out what to drive to work early in the morning---HOWEVER, somewhere growing up in the church it was indelibly imprinted on my mind that pride is a matter of looking at things in terms of how they affect you, how you will appear in the world's eyes.

A person completely focused on the work to be done and the truth of what is being said might be arrogant and might be wrong, but might not be proud.

I think people sometimes confuse humility with a sort of false modesty that would never assert itself too forcefully, but I rather think Moses was not being proud when he confronted Pharaoahs and wayward Israelits with a bold candor. . .

I think President Benson knew the importance of speaking boldly and clearly at times. . .

Okay, I think I'll find someone to give me a ride to the woods. My old truck is up there and that will work well enough in the morning. . .

Rhonda said...

Hey, Jim,

You know, everyone remembers President Benson's 1989 address on pride, but his "inaugural" address as president of the church in April of 1986, titled "Cleansing the Inner Vessel" also addressed pride. This was the opening talk on Saturday morning. The thing I remember most is that in the afternoon session, conducted by President Monson, members of the welfare committee spoke on welfare. After they had concluded, President Monson, who had stewardship over that committee, made a comment along the lines of "President Benson, I want the members of the welfare committee to know I am very proud of them." I was listening to the radio, but you could hear the grin in his voice when he said it. Does that qualify as official sanction for what Bill wrote?

Rhonda said...

I tried posting this yesterday, but it didn't work for some reason. My two cents worth is remembering that as President of the Church, President Benson first talked about pride in his "inaugural" address in Conference, April 1986. The title was "Cleansing the Inner Vessel." I mention this because of something said in the afternoon session that day. Members of the Welfare Committee spoke on welfare -- Robert D. Hales, then Presiding Bishop; Glenn L. Pace, one of his counselors, and Elders Faust and Nelson. Then, President Monson, who had stewardship over that committee and was conducting the session said, "President Benson, I want the members of the Church Welfare Committee to know I am very proud of them." I was listening on the radio, but you could hear the grin in his voice. Not official sanction, but maybe it comes close.

Jim Cobabe said...

Rhonda and others with similar thoughts, thanks for sharing them.

One of the reasons I express some confusion over the term "pride" is exemplified in Rhonda's illustration. I am not the only one who experiences pride and a deep satisfaction in a job well done. There must be some semantic difference between being proud -- arrogance, recalcitrant, stubborn -- and pride -- doing the job right.

Bill points out the most obvious, and perhaps the most significant distinguishing feature. Competition between parties simply for the sake of saying I am better than you. But I know it is not so simplistic. I have an acquaintance who competed in the winter Olympic Games over several rounds. He never made much of a mark, but he was very proud just to be a part of the competition at that level. He was just proud and happy to be able to show up. And he took great pride in his talent and accomplishment. Justifiably so -- very few could even hope to perform at such a level of competition.

Okay, so we have a good start, but this subject needs further elaboration. Explain more about why you think pride is different from pride. And why one is a good quality, and one is bad.