Mark Driscoll on Pride

Insightful words from Driscoll on pride & self-esteem (from the sermon, "Humble Pastors" looking at 1 Peter 5:1-5).
"Pride is demonic. ...Ever since [Eden], pride has been the problem. Most of us don't even understand that it's a problem, because satan also went into the marketing business and he's repackaged pride as self-esteem. Utter nonsense!

'Well You need to have self-esteem.' No you don't! Your identity is in Christ; your joy is in Christ! ... Live for God's glory, not your own!
'Well what about self-help?' That's the problem! We don't help ourselves; we need Jesus. It's not self-help, self-esteem, self-actualization. It's God, it's Christ, it's grace, it's gospel, it's glory to Him! We miss this totally.

You see this starting at youth. This is like a toxin that's put into your soul from birth. "Oh, you're a snowflake, you're special, there's no one like you." There was a study that came out; they tested American kids versus kids around the world. We score the lowest in geography, scored really low in math, really low in reading, and really high-- among the highest in the world-- in self-esteem.

This is what happens... "you can be anything you want, you can do anything you want to do, you're a snowflake, you can even go to Burger King and get it your way, right away." ... It's crazy-- you live in a insane, demonically-inspired culture that wants to make you the center of the universe, wants to make your glory the penultimate goal of your existence, and wants you to think that everyone should bow down and realize how amazing you are and it's satanic. No help at all. Because God opposes the proud. Think about that. To be proud is to fight God. And God gives grace to the humble.

...What we don't need is pride; we need grace. ..."God I need help; I need a Savior. I don't need self-esteem; I need identity in Christ. I don't need to self-actualize; I need to worship You, live for Your glory. I need to get out of myself; I'm addicted to myself. I think about myself. I love myself. All the time, and only my self."

I've said it before, I'll say it again-- there are times and ways that I have failed you. This is utterly condemning: arrogance, haughtiness, boastfulness. I have failed you. I deeply regret ways I have acted, things I have said. I ask your forgiveness. I would ask us all to follow Jesus. I hope by God's grace to grow in this.

... We're all so proud. CJ (Mahaney) says the best we can say is: "We are proud people pursuing humility by the grace of God."

Good stuff, there. What say you?


Ruth said...

Amen... and Amen!

Katie LaPierre said...

Good stuff Jess. My husband is a youth pastor and I look forward to sharing this with the youth. Have you heard the song "Housewives Song"? It touches on this beautifully! Check it out on itunes. I know you will love it. She talks about not finding our worth, beauty, strength or rest in ANYthing but the Lord!


Anonymous said...

Okay, so bottom line: Have esteem for Christ above all else, right?

Or....shall we have no esteem for ourselves? No self-respect?

There is a lot of rhetoric here.

A lot of condemning. He sounds angry.

But is that guiding me toward next steps? What IS the next step? Physically, with clear instructions.

What IS the next step? Sure, I can surmise. I can make up my own next step. Maybe it's fall on my knees. Maybe it's quick, open my bible! Maybe it's taking a moment to stop and pray.

My point is - if a person wishes to guide and teach, and draw us closer to God, then please, why not be clear? Drop the vague language. Give us clear actions we can take to do what it is that you want us to do.


Laura said...

Haha... nobody can beat Driscoll for making the point and not beating around the bush! Maybe you can put the link up to the sermon this came from so folks can listen to this in context, Jess?

Lisa, this is a brief excerpt from an hour-long sermon, and I don't think there's anything vague even about what he said or any suggestion that we should hate ourselves or have no self-respect -- just not be self-obsessed! :)

Jess said...

Hey Lisa,
Funny. When I typed these comments out the other day, in the context of listening to the sermon, I found them thought-provoking. As I read back through them today when they came up as a scheduled post, I felt the same way you did-- like he sounds angry. So perhaps the context helped the understanding in this particular instance, I don't know.

One of the reasons I decided to take it down in dictation and post the quote was because it gels with something else I'm reading in book called "Dumbing Down Our Kids". Namely, American kids are really over-the-top in terms of how they feel about themselves... to the point that they aren't assessing themselves accurately. For example, they think they're excellent at math, but they're sub-par when compared to most of the educated world. That kind of thing.

Anyway. The point that was meaningful for me is to not get lost in the whole "believe in yourself" movement, so prominent on Oprah, in schools, and in our culture. Instead, to recognize our need for Christ... and to teach our kids humility AND to find their worth in Christ.
Particularly as a homeschool mom, too, I find it valuable to think about how I can help my kids to assess their academic skills, God-given talents, and personal work ethic honestly and accurately.

Anyway, all that to say, I'm not as jazzed about the quote as I was after hearing it in the context of the whole sermon... but I still find it interesting.

I also thought I'd highlight the quote because it's one of the many recent instances where Driscoll has publicly apologized for pride and arrogance from the pulpit, after being slammed quite publicly by a couple prominent Christian leaders. I appreciate his willingness to publicly admit error and that he is in an ongoing process of sanctification.

Kristi said...

Well I really liked it, and it needed to be said. I agree that this self-esteem thing is ruining children and lives. I don't know. I've made a LOT of mistakes in my life, things that Christians have and would judge me very, very harshly for if they knew all of it. I get really down on myself in what a failure I have been in so many areas, just about my entire life. Where does that leave me? Knowing on my own, I am nothing. Humbled. It's not a fun place to be, but it sure does give me more compassion for the human race, and for others struggling. I have to be careful not to judge those who are prideful and judgmental, lol, so in that way I would be doing the same thing they are. But I certainly identify with the weak, the failures, the outcasts.

Catherine R. said...


I've decided you're a cooking blog...serving up helpings of spiritual food : ]

This is good stuff. EVERYWHERE in culture is the message: "The truth and power are within you." This is the opposite of what the bible says. We cannot do "anything" we cannot look "within" to find the power. It is a dark void of vanity.

Good to hear someone actually just say it!

Sandi said...

I appreciated this for sure and I understand Lisa's take somewhat. Everything has to be considered within it's contexted. I just assumed it was part a greater picture. We all tend to grab out of what we hear and read what is relevant for us at the moment. God is at work in each of us for His purpose at that moment.

It made me think of the need to really understand our total depravity. When we see, that apart from Him we can do no good thing, it makes what we do about Him and not us. I am a prideful person and it is a daily process to humble myself. And thankfully in His kindness He has humbled me for my own good many many times.

Everything we do has a bit of pride in it....when do we ever have true motive on this side of heaven?

Catherine R. said...

OK just wanted to add, after reading the comments; the anger doesn't jump out at me, but maybe he's angry at himself if, like Jess says, he has been guilty of what he's talking about.

This is such a huge issue in our culture that I am glad it's being discussed a bit anyway. I don't know much about Driscoll, I've heard different things.

I think there is such a thing as self-hatred which is also unbiblical. We can't seem to ever get it right.

Annette said...

Very well said.
I think you hit the nail square on the head....

Thanks for sharing! =)

maria said...

I think this series of comments is quite amazing; they are varied, hep to clarify each other, and and show a lot of humility and willingness to learn form others. Thanks Jess -- and everyone!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess, How do you feel about calvinism? If I am not mistaken he (Driscoll) is a calvinist. I really don't understand the calvinist view on the Atonement and why they would think Christ died for only pre-destined people. This has nothing to do with the post, I guess I like reading your blog and I find inspiration from your posts and links but I don't want to be led away from the truth. So just wondering your thoughts on calvinism. Thanks Marie (

sara said...

I liked what Driscoll had to say here but I thought it was funnier when he said that people who tally up the price of extra terriyaki sauce were under the influence of demons. (it was a joke)

Anonymous said...

I get what he's driving at - be humble, be dependent on God. Integrate the spirit of the Lord into all you do.

As a communicator, however, I take issue with his example of grades. It gets attention, yes, but logically, it doesn't seem to fit.

1. I always think of self-esteem as a matter of how loved and cared for a person feels. Not accomplishment based, but whether their lives are filled with positive, loving, healthy relationships.

2. Self-esteem traditionally defined has to do with how a person feels about him or herself regardless of how they compare with others.

3. It's making the kids out to seem as if they have really bad judgment. But were they TOLD how they compare? Given points 1&2, it seems a bit odd to be comparing grades with self-esteem. And it seems a bit odd to be comparing how kids measure up with other kids, gradewise, with self-esteem.

Teachers know that when you want someone to correct their behavior, you have to be specific.

1. Call attention to the BEHAVIOR that is wrong.
2. Don't even get into whether the person has good judgment or not. It is what it is. They're doing the best they can.
3. Call attention to an action that would correct the behavior.

(I assume that Driscoll wants us to be on the path to God, and wants to help us get on it.)

The best that I take from this is that it sounds like Driscoll is a person in pain, who is honestly and authentically sharing his pain. That is helpful, because we need to know that we're not alone in experiencing pain, mistakes or challenges. And we need to know that it's okay to talk about it.


Joanna said...


Sam, Christen and Canaan said...

I've heard this message before - it's a really good one. It makes me think of Rachel (last name?)'s message going around the net called "Death but not Dying" where she rants (in her words) on the lie of self-esteem. Her words were some of the best I've heard on it, as well as Driscoll's.

I love when he says, "You're a snowflake!"

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Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Great suff, Jess.

We are creating a generation of entitlement minded, narcissistic, people. With no real wisdom, knowledge, or even a basic education. Dangerous!

We need this message. The church needs to reject this "what about me?" mentality. We need to raise our kids differently.

sara said...

I believe (and it seems clear to me) that Driscoll was citing specific studies in which American school children performed poorly compared to other countries in everything except self-esteem.

The point is that there is a disconnect between how we think of ourselves and how well we are actually doing. There seems to be an actual negative correlation between how great we think we are and how great we really are.

Academia is only one place this shows up but I think it is a good example - especially since it forms the bulk of most people's early experience and training.

A friend of mine who teaches elementary school here in the U.S. gets regular reminder emails from "on high" to build self-esteem in the children - mostly through insincere and excessive praise. She gets no reminders on how to teach reading or math. And there is no such subject as geography.

I read a good book recently called How to find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World. I found it spiritually challenging.

Christie said...

I live in the Seattle area and am a member of Mars Hill Church, where Mark is pastor. I agree that his teachings are spot on here. For an even more challenging sermon, check out the one from yesterday, entitled Humble Christians. Convicting, yet totally encouraging at the same time. It's all about Jesus.

Emily said...

Great Sermon, Mark Driscoll is fantastic.

Leah said...

We're big Driscoll fans here...even bigger Jesus fans of course!! He is such an anointed communicator of Gods Word; we appreciate his teaching and direction from the scripture. Thanks for posting Jess!

Mrs. Lady Sofia said...

Interesting, but I'm not sure what to make of these comments. I mean, I can understand what Mr. Driscoll says about us as humans learning not to give the glory to ourselves and thinking we are better than God.

However, I am a little fuzzy about not needing self-esteem, and how he states that satan has repackaged pride into self-esteem. So, does this mean we should think lowly about ourselves ALL the time for the sake of the glory of God? And when I say, "think lowly," I mean thinking we are just "the scum of the earth" and complete "nobodies?"

I think I can see where he is coming from, but it's very vague. He needs to be more specific. And as other people have commented, he sounds VERY angry.

Mom said...

I agree with Ruth at the top - Amen! Great post!

Robin @ Heart of Wisdom said...

Jesus probably sounded angry too when He said, "Woe, to you, hypocrites!" seven times in Jesus' address to the scribes and Pharisees. "So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity!" (Matt. 23: 28).

I don't agree with Calvinism. Driscoll is right on here preaching against self esteem and pride.

We don't need self-help or self-esteem. We need God's grace. God gives grace to the humble.

Anonymous said...

i came across this randomly. anyway thought id share something ive learnt recently through my youth pastor.

that is, what u think of yourself doesnt matter so much. basically ive always thought down on my self (had a low self esteem basically) but what we think of ourselves shouldnt be tied to worldly standards but to God, and what he thinks of us. "you are fearfully and wonderfully made" "in the image of God" i cant find the words to explain just how much he loves me cept by saying jesus came for me. its made all the difference. i now believe that i am talented, haev something to offer, i have a worth, and im beginning to dream my dreams again. phil 4:13