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When I dropped a pride bomb ... and was so embarrassed

Man in gym wearing pink bodybuilder costume lifting dumbbell. | Getty Images/Westend61

I did it again. I can’t believe I haven’t learned yet.  I guess it’s considered part of life, but I refuse to cave in and be like everyone else. I’m talking about pride.

While on the phone with one of my accountability partners, I got fired up because we were having an awesome conversation. For some strange reason, I felt the need to slip in a quick, small, innocent sentence. Or so I thought. We were discussing the response we received from a fellow FCA staff member, and I quickly inserted, “Yeah, and he is a GOOD friend of mine.” I wanted to make sure my accountability partner knew of my significant relationship with this staff member. But I wasn’t simply informing him of our friendship; instead, I was implying things worked out because of my tight relationship with him. I was making myself look good — bragging. I did it again. I had dropped a Pride Bomb!

As soon as I said it, my accountability partner responded, “Why did you have to say that?” I didn’t respond. I knew why I said it but didn’t want to confess.

He then said, “If you need encouragement, just let me know, and I will give it to you.” Ouch. His word stung. But he was absolutely right! Not only was I praising myself, but I was also fishing for praise. I wanted him to think better of me. My small, “innocent” comment screamed, “Look at me! I’m important! I’m significant!”

T.S. Elliot wrote, “Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.” Not only did my comment turn the spotlight on me, but it also removed God from the situation. I’d blown up a great, God-centered conversation with a Pride Bomb: an unnecessary statement made to puff ourselves up.

Others can hear them go off a mile away, and they produce the most awful, selfish odor. They reek of self-glorification. In the world of sports, unfortunately, they have become a natural part of the language. Coaches and athletes often aren’t even aware that they set off Pride Bombs, and, even if they are, they brag about it.

Why do we have such a need to brag? Do we really want people to think we have a big head or are on an ego trip? Do we want to be tagged as cocky, full of self, and egotistical? Why is it so hard for us to recognize pride in ourselves when others can spot it a mile away? Do we feel we need to prove something to someone? Will others like us more if they know how important we are? Is there something missing in our lives that we desire others to fill? These are all questions we must wrestle with continually.

Maybe the reason is answered by a Spanish proverb: “Tell me what you brag about, and I’ll tell you what you lack.” What’s really crazy is that while we brag so others will like us more, it only makes them want to avoid us.

As Christians, God has called us to a higher standard. He does not want us to go with the flow. He wants us to be humble and to speak with words of grace and thankfulness. He tells us to be humble. Our conversations should encourage others instead of ourselves. We should look for opportunities to slip in encouragement. I think it’s safe to say God wants us to lead an Encouragement Fest instead of a Pride Fest. The two “occasions” are much alike with one exception: the replacement of the word “I” with the word “you.”

Pride Bombs say, “I am great.” Encouragement Bombs say, “You are great.”

Instead of letting our comments drip with self-exhortation, we should drench them in the edification and blessing of others. I can name several people in my life I actively seek out because of the encouragement they offer. They are gifted in building others up with authentic, genuine Encouragement Bombs. When they go off, the effect is love, joy, compassion, blessing, and motivation.

If you are truly walking in accordance with the will of God, you will drop Encouragement Bombs everywhere you go, and He will use them to bring healing and restoration to your community, your city, and even your country! May we all be committed to bringing change to our homes, churches, schools, teams, or offices through priceless bombs of encouragement. I firmly believe everyone is under-encouraged, so there is a lot of work to be done. Today, will you speak life or death? The choice is yours.

Dan Britton is a speaker, writer, coach and trainer who serves as the Chief Field Officer with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and leads thousands of staff in over 100 countries. Britton played professional lacrosse with the Baltimore Thunder and has coauthored seven books, including: One Word, WisdomWalks, and Called to Greatness. He is a frequent speaker for companies, nonprofits, sports teams, schools and churches.

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