Posted by: mahlbrandt | July 30, 2008

False Pride

Two Sunday ago John Paul Jackson was the speaker at our church. One of the things he said really struck a chord with me. As humans we often belittle ourselves in an attempt to seem (or be) humble. When someone offers us an outstanding job we sometimes think, Oh, I’m not good enough for that job. We assume that is humility. In reality it’s pride. God put you in this place on earth at this time in history with a specific set of skills to accomplish a specific purpose. When you say, I don’t have what it takes, you are saying that you know better than God! Or if you say, My hair looks so bad, you are critiquing God’s craftsmanship. Dare ye? That makes you think, doesn’t it?

It occurred to me as I was driving home the other day how similar this is in the secular realm too. Jason and I were flipping through books in the front of Borders on the Friday before that service. (By the way, we found 2 or 3 books that we need to have. If anyone would like to buy them for us, please let me know.) Jason was getting a good laugh out of the book Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander. One of these things is criticize ourselves. Sound familiar? In his examples, we criticize ourselves to make ourselves look better. For example, “I’m a workaholic.” It sounds like we are criticizing ourselves but actually we’re trying to show off how much we work. You get double points if, with your self-critique, you can simulaneously make yourself look better and make other people look bad. His example was “I work too much. I never get to go out and party with you.” He’s making himself look good for working so hard and at the same time making people who go out and party look bad. Bonus! These are not quite the same as the self-doubt in the above examples but the underlying issue is the same.

See how prideful we really are? It’s amazing that we actually think we’re fooling each other.

More about Stuff White People Like:

They love nothing better than sipping free-trade gourmet coffee, leafing through the Sunday New York Times, and listening to David Sedaris on NPR (ideally all at the same time). Apple products, indie music, food co-ops, and vintage T-shirts make them weak in the knees.

They believe they’re unique, yet somehow they’re all exactly the same, talking about how they “get” Sarah Silverman’s “subversive” comedy and Wes Anderson’s “droll” films. They’re also down with diversity and up on all the best microbrews, breakfast spots, foreign cinema, and authentic sushi. They’re organic, ironic, and do not own TVs.

You know who they are: They’re white people. And they’re here, and you’re gonna have to deal. Fortunately, here’s a book that investigates, explains, and offers advice for finding social success with the Caucasian persuasion. So kick back on your IKEA couch and lose yourself in the ultimate guide to the unbearable whiteness of being.



  1. This is so weird that you posted about this… because i talked with Brian about the top issue this morning a lot…. and how I struggle with a reverse pride that is actually crippling for me.

    i wasn’t trying to be non-humble there either or show others to feel bad for me because i struggle with reverse pride.

    AHAA its a vicious circle!

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