(see also HUMILITY)
Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence:
It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee
shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery.
He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I
did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then
put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learnfrom it and become determined that you will never do that again.
I haven't in the 30 years since.
Carol Mann, The 19th Hold, Longmeadow.
During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was
inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet, over which he gazed out in the
direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought
to duck while passing the parapet. "Nonsense," snapped the general. "They
couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--." A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground,
Today in the Word, August 30, 1993.
God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish.
Did you hear about the clever salesman who closed hundreds of sales with this line:
"Let me show you something several of your neighbors said you couldn't afford."
George Gordon Liddy, Watergate conspirator recently released from prison: "I have
found within myself all I need and all I ever shall need. I am a man of great faith, but
my faith is in George Gordon Liddy. I have never failed me."
The Christian Century,
Sept. 28, 1977, p. 836.
Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out
of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after
his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms
in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and
I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, 'I'm going to conquer Chicago.' "When
I looked down, the suitcases were gone."
Today in the Word, September 10, 1992.
Ronald Reagan, recalling an occasion when he was governor of California and made a
speech in Mexico City: "After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather
unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke
in Spanish -- which I didn't understand -- and he was being applauded about every
paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer
than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, 'I wouldn't do that if I were
you. He's interpreting your speech.'"
Quoted by Gerald Gardner in All the
Presidents' Wits (Morrow), in Reader's Digest.
In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia.
Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the
disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It
wasn't a technology problem like radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human
stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence nearby. Both could have
steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the
other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was
Closer Walk, December, 1991.
Pride is the dandelion of the soul. Its root goes deep; only a little left behind
sprouts again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest encouraging cracks. And it flourishes in
good soil: The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved
these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as
no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious
hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we
have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were
produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success,
we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving
grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
A. Lincoln, Proclamation of a day of
National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, 1863.
God wisely designed the human body so that we can neither pat our own backs nor kick
ourselves too easily.
There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it
down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could
conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.
Benjamin Franklin, from his autobiography.
A U.S. Air Force transport plane with its captain and 5 crew members was flying over
Alaska in the mid-50s when they entered an unusually fierce snowstorm. The navigator
contacted an air base only to be told that he had veered several hundred miles off course.
Correct coordinates were given to the navigator, who continued to insist that his own
calculations could not be that far off. Soon the plane ran low on fuel. The six men
decided to abandon the plane and parachute to safety, but because of the -70 degree
Farenheit temperature and winds that gusted to 50 mph, they were all frozen within minutes
of hitting the ground. A friend of mine was part of the rescue team that discovered and
retrieved the bodies 3 days later. As a result of the navigator's pride, 5 other people
went to their deaths. Proverbs 12:15 tells us that "the way of a fool is right in his
own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise." The results may not always be so
dramatic, but we must all be careful to seek the counsel of God and wise individuals
before making decisions of lasting significance.
Dave McPherson, Maranatha Bible Church,
Pali, this bull has killed me." So said Jose Cubero, one of Spain's most brilliant matadors, before he lost consciousness and died.
Only 21 years old, he had been enjoying a spectacular career. However, in this l958
bullfight, Jose made a tragic mistake. He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding,
delirious bull, which then collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, Jose turned to
the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull, however, was not dead. It rose and lunged
at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart.
Just when we think we've finished off pride, just when we turn to accept the
congratulations of the crowd, pride stabs us in the back. We should never consider pride
dead before we are.
Craig Brian Larson.
Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.
A young woman asked for an appointment with her pastor to talk with him about a
besetting sin about which she was worried. When she saw him, she said, "Pastor, I
have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at church I
begin to look around at the other women, and I realize that I am the prettiest one in the
whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about
The pastor replied, "Mary, that's not a sin, why that's just a
A recent news release told of a Charlotte, North Carolina, woman who set a world record
while playing a convenience store video game. After standing in front of the game for
fourteen hours and scoring an unprecedented seven and a half million points on the game
called "Tapper," the woman was pleased to see a TV crew arriving to record her
efforts for posterity. She continued to play while the crew, alerted by her
prepared to shoot. However, she was appalled to see the video screen suddenly go blank.
While setting up their lights, the camera team had accidentally unplugged the game, thus
bringing her bid for ten million points to an untimely end! The effort to publicize her
achievement became the agent of her ultimate failure.
"Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace."
C. H. Spurgeon.
Anyone who travels to Edinburgh, Scotland will find Edinburgh castle a tower of
seemingly insurmountable strength. But the truth is that the castle was once actually
captured. The fortress had an obvious weak spot which defenders guarded--but because
another spot was apparently protected by its steepness and impregnability, no sentries
were posted there. At an opportune time, an attacking army sent a small band up that
unguarded slope and surprised the garrison into surrender. Where the castle was strong,
there it was weak.
Today in the Word, Feb 89, p. 36.
The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond.
The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their
waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it
was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily
fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick
in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to
another pond. The plan worked well--so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a
farmer looked up in admiration and mused, "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder
who thought of it?" The frog said, "I did..."
Today in the
1989, p. 34.