A Writer’s Honest Prayer

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Almighty God,

In light of your holiness and generosity, I’m aware of my unworthiness and sin. My pride and self-focus are bulging and monstrous; I confess these sins to you.

I confess that I long for the attention and praise of men. I want people to say that I’m important; I dream of the admiration of others.

My self-worth rises and falls too often with page views, comments, and incoming links. I check my blog stats more frequently than I should, more frequently than I would admit.

As I write, I am tempted to draw attention to myself. Instead of using humor and playful word choices to serve readers, I have chosen phrases so others will think I’m clever.

I have not always used my words to glorify you. Instead, I have written to impress other people and make a name for myself.

In these sins of self-exaltation, I have walked in the opposite direction from Jesus. Your son made himself nothing, while I have tried to make something of myself. Though your love frees me to pour out my life and energy for others, I have too often only paid attention to me.

For the sake of your son, please forgive me.

In light of my sin which only you can forgive, I need change only you can bring. Merciful God, please change me. Turn my bent-inwardness around and renovate my heart.

Use my writing for your glory. Help me write in service of your people.

Give me only the opportunities that would point others to you and bless your church. Keep me from projects and outlets that would bring me spiritual harm.

Please give me ideas. Help me think well about you and your world. Tether me to your life-giving word.

When I sit to write, give me words. I depend on you. Give me helpful, persuasive, wise, gracious, godly, timely words.

Empower my friends to speak to me honestly. Rebuke and correct me by your Spirit and your people. Strengthen my elders to shepherd me.

Help me remember the gospel. Whether my writing is well-received or ignored, remind me of your unfailing love and the bedrock work of Jesus. Thank you that no amount of writing, good or bad, can make you love me any more or less than you do right now. You are full of grace.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Photo Credit: Ursula (2015), public domain

Pride in the Parking Lot

On a bright Saturday morning in the spring, I drove to the grocery story to pick up a few items. The day was full of promise.

We were enjoying a weekend visit from my wife’s parents. After gathering some supplies for the homestead, I planned to work for a few hours at the office and then enjoy the afternoon and evening with my family and in-laws.

When I tried to leave the grocery store parking lot, the car gave only a mild attempt at starting. It was as though I had tried to rouse the car after a late-night rager; it acknowledged my presence, turned over once, then retreated under the covers. We both knew it wasn’t getting out of bed any time soon.

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Waiting

While I waited for my wife and mother-in-law, I tried to start the car several more times. I’ve dealt with a dead car battery before, but these noises sounded different. With no particular automotive expertise, I decided there must be a problem with the starter, not the battery. When my mother-in-law suggested that we try to jump start the car, I brushed the idea aside, convinced my diagnosis was sound.

AAA assured me a tow truck would be there within the hour. That seemed reasonable. I read a book with the car windows down, enjoying the parking lot bouquet of carbon monoxide1 and warming asphalt. Soon one hour turned into three. A tow truck driver finally arrived and I offered my expert opinion about the faulty starter. He proposed we try to jump the car anyway. Given his profession (not to mention his muscles and tattoos), this was no proposal—it was the plan. But I was sure this attempt would fail.

Immediately, powerfully, triumphantly, the car started. Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. I could not have been more wrong.

This kind driver obviously dealt with proud idiots of my caliber on a regular basis. He smiled, shook my hand, and instructed me to drive directly to the auto parts store. I replaced the battery and returned home five or six hours after departing.

Lessons About Pride

God has convicted me of pride before (and I’ve written about pride once or twice), but this was a technicolor example. Here are some lessons I hope to learn about noticing and combating pride.

  1. Be careful of insisting that you are right. — This boils down to the fundamental Biblical command that we should not think too highly of ourselves. This applies when we are experts in a field. It certainly applies when we are not.
  2. Be willing to listen to others. — Had I listened to my dear mother-in-law I would have saved a lot of time that Saturday. And who was I to scoff at the expertise of the tow truck driver? We cannot and will not listen to others unless we are humble, unless we believe that we need other people. (This is a good thing to believe, because God says it is true.) Hear ye the proverb: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2, ESV)
  3. Beware the trap of the stubbornness of pride. — Pride seemes to brings with it a certain isolating stubbornness. As I sat in the parking lot, I was not only full of complaints but I was also strangely smug. There is a wicked satisfaction in being the only one in the world who is right, with all arrayed in splendor against you. In the grip of pride, I can actually enjoy this isolation. I head into a self-congratulatory cycle with my ears closed to outside voices.

We can combat pride by growing in humility, thinking accurately about ourselves and our God. I recommend a heaping dose of the Bible (just about anywhere will do, but Job 38–41 is a fine place to start) along with relationships with people who will be honest with you.

What about you? How do you identify pride in your life? How do you fight it?


  1. I know this is odorless, just go with me. 

Photo Credit: FailedImitator, Creative Commons License

Pride and the Professor

A dear friend of mine emailed me in February. She, herself a retired college professor, was preparing to lead a retreat for a gathering of Christians in graduate school. The question she put to me was this: “What are the intrinsic challenges, opportunities, and temptations of serving God in Academe?”

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Putting aside the many opportunities that are present in my job, I wrote about the challenges and temptations I see. (Does this show I am not an optimist by nature? Perhaps I will write about the opportunities in a future post.) What follows is a lightly edited version of my response.


One of the basic challenges in any vocation is the challenge to love. Loving others and loving God are both commands our flesh resists. Those challenges take different shapes in various vocations, however, so I’ll spell out how my flesh resists these commands in my experience as a college professor.

One of the challenges to loving God and others is the temptation and even the encouragement toward pride in academia. We are constantly required to update our CVs and tell everyone what we’ve done and how important it was. Acknowledging what God has done or what God has strengthened us to do is all fine and very good, but of course the tone at secular schools is much different. In grant-writing or even end-of-year activity reports we are told to promote ourselves or not be promoted. But pride is deadly and offensive to our God! God may discipline us in this regard through failure, rejection, being overlooked, or working closely with others that boast in themselves. Pride is sneaky enough that I am tempted to boast in the amount of work I have to do or even the small amount of sleep I’ve gotten; many here wear haggard faces and yawns as badges of honor.

I also struggle with loving students. This is largely because of impatience, wanting students to learn material more quickly than they do. But this touches on pride as well—I was able to learn this quickly, why can’t they? God calls teachers to be kind and sympathetic, and pride can almost short-circuit those fruits of the Spirit.

Finally, the academic community has always been hostile to Christianity, but that hostility appears to be growing. Christianity is increasingly being labelled as a religion for the uneducated and the mindless lemmings. That is both offensive to my pride and untrue. However, it requires patience, care, and love to defend the faith without being defensive, to put forth a winsome argument for the truth of the gospel without turning people away.


That was my response; how about you? If you are a Christian serving in higher education, what challenges, opportunities, and temptations do you face? For those in other vocations, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter too!


Photo by Alex, Creative Commons License

Diagnostic Questions: Pride

In my small group Bible study last night, we studied Isaiah 2. The last half of this chapter is filled with condemnation of pride, for “the Lord alone will be exalted.” In our discussion I asked this question: How can we diagnose pride in ourselves?

It is always difficult to see sin in ourselves, and this is the main reason that many in the small group responded by saying that we should ask those we are closest to about our pride. I heartily agree. But it may also be helpful to have some more specific questions to ask those friends. Toward that end I thought of two diagnostic questions, designed to be prayed over, and answered honestly before God.

  1. What is the worst insult someone else could direct at you?
  2. In what areas of your life do you make us/them comparisons?

Have these or other diagnostic questions helped you in your battle against pride? Please share in the comments.