Thursday, June 07, 2012

Three Faces of Masculine Pride

Men often have a peculiar problem. Pride. Pride is one of the famous set (or infamous?) seven deadly sins. According to A.W. Tozer, in one of his best known works, The Pursuit of God, pride is a "burden," that sets ourselves up as "a little god." How are we consciously or unconsciously setting ourselves up? There are three ways that many men have adopted. Firstly there is the self-independent, "I can fix everything," mindset that refuses to ask for help even under the most dire circumstances. Secondly, it is the control freak, who basically becomes utterly restless when things are beyond his control. Thirdly, there is the self-justifying righteous person.

A) Mr Fix-It: "I Don't Need Help."

Men who have traveled with their lady companions will be familiar with this. When it comes to asking for directions, men simply don't. Whether it is a masculine factor, or a sign of being independent, I am not sure. The fact is, men simply are not oriented toward asking for help. They will always tend to want to fix it first. I remember traveling with my wife on a holiday trip on a self-guided tour. We were driving on a country hillside. After several miles of not seeing any signs pointing to our destination, my wife will start questioning.  Are we in the right direction? Have we missed a turn? Why is it so long? Of course, the question that most men hate: "Why don't you pull over to ask for directions?"

Like a macho man from Mars, I will continue driving as if I have been there. Asking for help? No way. There is no problem in the first place. As the incident goes, after driving more miles and not seeing anything helpful, I will grudgingly pull into a gas station and drag myself to speak to the gas attendant.

Thought: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less." (C.S. Lewis)

B) Mr Control Freak: "Don't Control Me. I Control You."

There are many things I like to be doing myself. From fixing the light bulb or the computer, to searching for a place when driving, I like to do things independently. When things are fixed according to my way, I feel good. I feel proud. I feel I am in control. Yet, when things spiral out of control, I feel lousy. It hits me hard, especially my pride.

Sometimes, in organizations we work in, there are bosses who seem to want to know everything we do. My colleagues frequently call it "micro-management," where every little detail needs to be reported up to the bossy guy up there. The moment we fail to meet his high demand for control, we will be in trouble. We hurt his pride. He hurts our pay.

One common example of pride is when someone overtakes us on the wrong side when we are driving. More often than not, if it is a male driver, there is a good chance he gets upset.  The desire to want to be in control comes across in very subtle ways. It is not the incident per se, but our responses to the offending act that reveals how prideful we are.

Thought: "The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones." (Gabirol)

C) Mr Self-Justifying: "I am Right."
In discussions with men, I have encountered many situations in which a vigorous debate turns ugly. Refusing to concede their positions, sometimes, people resort to ridiculing each other just to make their positions superior. While accusations fly quickly, once the truth is revealed, more often than not, the party in error takes a while to admit his fault. This is intriguing. Why is this so? Why do men find it so difficult to say sorry? Perhaps, that has to do with the inability to swallow one's pride. The Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6b).

Thought: "The meek man will attain a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings." (A.W. Tozer)

Indeed, one of the paradoxes of life is this. A proud man thinks he is humble, but the humble man thinks he is proud. Beware of the above three faces. They can actually be efforts to turn ourselves into little gods.


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