Coping with pride of success

Deep in our hearts, most of us admit that humility is a good and important quality of human character. The Bible lists ''humbleness of mind'' as a Christly quality. n1 In one sense, humility might be seen as a feeling of our equality with others that comes from an honest recognition of the shortcomings we have in common. More deeply, it is an awareness that man is the majestic effect of God, totally dependent upon his creator, and never a cause himself.

n1 See Colossians 3:12.

For some people, the first kind of humility appears to be easy. They've come to think of themselves as mediocre most of the time, and to consider this view a form of humility. (It may actually be nearer self-depreciation, which definitely is not true humility.) For others, with impressive talents or accomplishments, such humility may be a challenge. Some may cope with the pride of success by simply letting it flower, and that is sad. Those flowers have thorns. Others may try to rein in pride by telling themselves that their success or talent results from luck or a temporary ''up'' cycle; from good breaks or knowing the right people.

But all these ways to cope with pride feel hollow. Maybe it is because in the end they are all simply ways of explaining why we are better than others. ''We'' are still in the spotlight, and others are still in the shadows. Many successful people may feel that this is the way it has to be or they may lose their success to some vague, self-defacing humility. Or they may believe that they find their identity in what they do, and fear they might lose themselves if they gave God credit for ''their'' good.

However, there is a way to be both successful and humble. It is to admit that God, good, is absolutely All and that man - our true, God-created selfhood - is His likeness. It is to at least glimpse that, as the Bible says, ''Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.'' n2 The Apostle Paul wrote that, and he was both very successful and very humble. He also wrote, ''I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'' n3

n2 Romans 11:36.

n3 Philippians 4:13.

Paul was a follower of Christ Jesus, who was the most successful man to walk the earth, if success means security and value in one's life. Jesus said, ''I can of mine own self do nothing'' n4 and, ''The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.'' n5 The Master expressed more of God and helped his fellowman more than anyone before or since.

n4 John 5:30.

n5 John 14:10.

But Jesus' teachings and the teachings of Christian Science, which are based squarely on them, do not debase man. They reveal man. They reveal his capabilities and possibilities and his true, unspotted, Godlike nature. True humility is individually reflecting, in thought and life, God's grandness, distinction, excellence, intelligence, strength, wisdom, and love. Humility expresses a willingness to say, ''All is yours, God.''

If all is God's, and it is, then any evil we think we see is not actual - not enduring or truly substantial. And any good we see or do is a hint of the spiritual reality that is actually present. ''All that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine,'' n6 the Bible says. And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual.'' n7

n6 I Chronicles 29:11.

n7 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 427.

This acknowledgment is true humility. It admits that God is first and last and that man is His perfect, exalted likeness, not a mortal of any kind - below average, mediocre, or superior. Man is the distinguished expression of all the good that God is. You and I, in reality, are now that man. As we admit it, and live in harmony with what we really are, following Jesus' example, we'll prove it bit by bit and be both truly humble and grandly successful. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Submit yourselves therefore to God. . . . Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7, 8, 10

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