When Self-Deprecation Becomes A Matter Of Pride

[From the archives.]

***

Christians have perfected the over-spiritualizing of self-deprecation.

You see it in ministry all the time. Someone tries to pay a sincere compliment and gets smacked down faster than a flyweight amateur at a heavyweight MMA title match. The person trying to be an encourager leaves the conversation deflated, and the person who deflected the encouragement walks away with a false sense of spiritual superiority.

But here’s how I’d love to see the conversation go sometime:

“That music you played during the offering was wonderful. You are such a gifted pianist.”

“It wasn’t me. It was all God.”

“But God used you and all your talent to bring us that wonderfully worshipful music.”

“Oh, anyone could have done that.”

“Yeah I guess you’re right. Like a little baby could have.”

“No, not a little baby, of course.”

“OK, not a little baby. Their hands are too small, and they can’t see the keyboard unless you put them in a booster seat, and their feet would never reach the pedals. But like you said anyone could; even someone who has never taken any piano lessons, like me.”

I’ve been taking lessons all my life.”

“All your life, huh?”

“Yes, and I practice a minimum of three hours a day.”

“OK, you practice three hours a day …”

“Minimum.”

“… three hours a day minimum, you’ve been taking lessons all your life, and you probably practiced today’s piece quite a bit too.”

“Of course. I’ve been preparing that music for weeks”

“Yeah, I see what you mean.”

“About what?”

“That wonderfully worshipful piece you played, the one that you’ve been preparing for weeks, that all your lessons and practicing over the years led up to, the one that was so meaningful during the offering … it was nothing special.”

“What do you mean it was nothing special?!”

“Like you said, anyone could have done it.”

***

 

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14 Responses to When Self-Deprecation Becomes A Matter Of Pride

  1. Laura Droege says:

    I remember this post from last time, but it’s still funny! This would make a great skit for church.

    • Tim says:

      If you ever perform it at your church, please post video!

      • Laura Droege says:

        Perform a skit at MY church?! I’m not sure if Presbyterians go for skits during a worship service! And me as an actor would be a disaster in the making. (Although I’ve always secretly wanted to be a star on stage in a musical, I think my lack of musical talent and overabundance of stage fright might be barriers to that dream being realized in this life!)

  2. Kathi says:

    Humbleness is a virtue. All for God’s glory!

  3. Jeannie says:

    I agree with Laura; this would make a great skit.

  4. Pastor Bob says:

    “False Humility”
    Well defined through illustration. What a Friday…..

  5. Maze says:

    I have a friend who calls this super fun aspect of churchianity “pride of the worm”…I think she says it has Puritan origins….always cracks me up…

    Appreciate your comments at ssb…glad to have found your blog!

  6. Humility acknowledges God, of course, but also acknowledges the other person. They’re being encouraging. This is a loving and kind act. It is wrong to turn that back around on them. Humility just says “thank you” and quietly thanks God for the opportunity to share His grace. Your post reminds me of this song by Laura Story:

  7. Jeremy M. says:

    This is funny, but it is so awkward when someone does compliment you for the stuff done during church. I’ve come to the point that I just say thank you and move on, but it’s still awkward, at least for me.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that this isn’t really the humility that we’re called to. I’ve come to view it, correctly or not, more as viewing ourselves in proper relation to God and to other people. It’s not about constantly being self-depreciating, but more about understanding we aren’t God and that we’re all humans in need of grace.

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