4 Subtle Dangers of Pride

One of the most dangerous things about pride is that it’s easy to see in others but difficult to see in ourselves.

Any leader can fall prey to pride, and when we think we can’t, the enemy has us right where he wants us.

It’s something that can creep up on us slowly and subtly, and if unchecked over time, can cause us to cultivate thoughts we wouldn’t want others to know or believe to be true.

If pride in a leader grows, it becomes a poison to the soul that makes it increasingly impossible to serve from an authentic heart of love and desire to serve others.

Pride steals our freedom to love and serve others, holds us captive to a certain image and in bondage to a need for control.

Pride is preoccupied with things like:

  • Where am I on the org chart?
  • Do I have the authority I want?
  • How fast am I rising?
  • Will what I’m doing get me where I want to be?
  • Do people think highly of me?
  • Am I the best?

Pride can make a smart leader do really dumb things. It has been described this way, “Pride is like a drug that can take over your life.”

Pride can cause us to self-sabotage — to not ask for help when we need it or turn it down when offered. Pride can cause us to walk away from a beautiful friendship when a simple “I’m sorry” is all that was needed.

  • The antidote to the poison of pride is authentic humility.
  • The attitude to battle the poison of pride is to think of yourself as God does, nothing more and nothing less.
  • The action to overcome the poison of pride is to speak words of apology, admit when wrong, give credit to others, lift others up, submit to God and invite others to speak truth into our lives.

Humility isn’t thinking poorly of yourself, its thinking honestly about yourself. It’s the combination of knowing the truth about yourself and simultaneously understanding God’s great love for you. When you see yourself and value yourself in the same way God does, you are headed in the right direction.  (From my book Confident Leader.)  

4 Subtle Dangers of Pride

1) Pride can cause us to be preoccupied with where we stand rather than how we serve

Pride can sneak up on anyone at any time. It is always waiting and prowling in the shadows. Even the most humble of leaders can slide, momentarily, into the snare of pride.

For example, Pride allows us focus on our place on the org chart rather than how we benefit the team. That’s easy to do, and it starts from a good place, from our calling, the God-given drive and desire to do well. Its when we step across the line to serving ourselves rather than others that the problem emerges.

Insecurity can also cause us to focus on where we are on the org chart, but it’s a passive lament, where pride is an aggressive pursuit.

The darkness of pride causes us to be more concerned with our seat at the table rather than what we bring to the table.

The desire to reach our God-given potential is a good thing, if we remain on His agenda instead of our own.

2) The subtle sin of pride is comparison

We can all be blindsided by pride.

Pride is natural to the human condition, it’s a lifelong battle we must face. The good news is that we can consistently win the battle through awareness, intentionality and honest feedback from a few close advisors we trust.

The great problem with pride isn’t feeling good about yourself or a job well done, it’s comparing yourself to others with a desire to elevate yourself as better, above and more important.

The subtle even sinister factor with pride is that the real goal of comparison is more about lowering the value of others as much as elevating the value of self.

We can weaken the hold of pride when we shift our perspective from unhealthy comparison to making a genuine contribution to the benefit of others. When we focus on lifting others up it is difficult for pride to take root.  

3) Pride always desires more

The ugly trap in pride is its insidious desire for more. It’s simply never satisfied.

The never-ending snare of “more” is that the leader often doesn’t know what the more is, it’s just more, and that makes for a dangerous leader. The result is an ungrateful and discontent spirit.

To say it differently, a prideful leader who doesn’t know what they want is a dangerous leader because they are consumed with taking (to meet their unsatiable need) rather than giving.

Over time, this leader can change from leading with a Spirit-filled boldness – to a leader in search of more power for the sake of control.

This always leads to a fall.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

Proverbs 29:23

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.  

James 4:6

4) A sure sign of pride is when a leader is no longer willing to follow.

When I was a young adult in college, working part-time jobs, I often thought I knew more than my boss, and therefore didn’t want to do what I was asked (or told) to do. That was clearly pride and arrogance.

At the young age of twenty-one that may be understandable, but it doesn’t make it right and how should we think about this when a leader is in his or her 30’s, 40’s or 50’s?

When a leader is no longer willing to follow the leaders above him or her, they become a liability rather than an asset to the team.

A lack of ability or willingness to follow reveals at some level a spirit of rebellion, arrogance, or independence.

Regardless of our age, submission is a Godly trait. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate model of submission to the Father.


Resisting pride and embracing submission for the sake of God’s purposes not easy, in fact, it’s a life-long process. The healthy journey begins with awareness, embracing an attitude of humility, and resisting prideful behavior.

8 thoughts on “4 Subtle Dangers of Pride”

  1. “He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) There was a time when I was preaching on that verse and as I was preaching I had an image of Jesus being in front and I was behind. He was much larger than me and he is to be seen not me the messenger.

  2. The fool thinks himself to be wise, while a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

    -William Shakespeare

    There are no end destinations in learning, in mastering a skill, or gaining the wisdom of any kind.
    In almost all forms of learning and practicing- creative, sports, entrepreneurship- the focus should never be on the end results.

    But on the process.

  3. GOD sent this message to me through you today, Dan. His timing is always perfect. I am reminded that I must work to push pride and comparison aside and refocus on being the servant leader that I claim to be. Thank you for this message and I am sure that it resonated with many others.

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