Common sense tells us that high self-esteem is a must for thriving in the workplace. If you want to get ahead, you must feel good about yourself. Most of us have plenty to feel good about too: our accomplishments, skills, influence, reputation, responsibilities, education, and more.
Taking pride in your career and the goods or services you produce are always good things, right? If this is true, what is God saying in Proverbs 16:18 when he proclaims, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall?”
This verse is a warning and God wrote it for our own good. He does not want us to get hurt by putting too much stock in manufactured self-esteem or man-centered self-inflation.
“Pride” used in Proverbs 16:18 means arrogance as characterized by majesty, pomp, and exaltation. Self-esteem can become a euphemism for pride, and this is the problem.
Pride is deceptive, personal, and a matter of degree. We can all pick out the prideful coworker, but can we see the pride in our own conduct? Jesus’s words in Luke 4:23 come to mind: “Physician, heal yourself!”
Pride exalts the wrong person.
Pride takes over when the self in self-esteem takes center stage. Pride leaves no room for God. It pushes God off of his throne in your life and replaces him with your self.
There is a point where a healthy self-image—a good thing—crosses the line to become tainted with pride, and God knows where the line is for each of us.
The Bible tells us more about pride in James 4:6: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Think about it: God opposes the proud. When you get full of yourself, God begins to oppose you. Your pride not only alienates your coworkers, but your pride alienates God, and neither of these consequences is desirable.
Keep your pride in check by applying James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” John says something similar when talking about his relationship with Jesus in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” Balance your high self-esteem with respect for God and others.