Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pride as Madness

Baruch Spinoza, a 17th century Jewish/Dutch philosopher (1632-1677 CE) described pride as a form of madness: "Thus we see that it may readily happen, that a man may easily think too highly of himself, or a loved object, and, contrariwise, too meanly of a hated object. This feeling is called 'pride,' in reference to the man who thinks too highly of himself, and it is a species of madness." C. S. Lewis described pride as the "complete anti-God state of mind...the great sin."

The problem of pride in leadership is that it provides leaders with a completely false sense of themselves. They find their identity in their talents, expertise, accomplishments and possessions. The only cure for this kind of prevalent leadership madness is a clearer vision of God in which we find our own true self, created and sustained in Him. John Calvin made this connection, " is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face...For, because all of us are inclined by nature to hypocrisy, a kind of empty image...". I am persuaded that authentic Christian leadership starts withthe quest for a clearer vision of God in which the false images of pride are stripped away to provide, in the words of John Michael Talbot, "an empty canvas" ready to bear the image of our Lord.