Top 10 Ways to Not Be a Jerk

I’m just finishing up a little vacation with my family and as a result today’s post is from the archives. I hope you don’t mind and I hope you enjoy. P.S. If you want to be a total stalker (shhh, I won’t tell) find me on Instagram as “Modernreject” to see my vacation pics.

I’ve been a bit of a jerk lately. I mean, you may not have noticed. People around me may not have noticed much, but I have. And God has certainly noticed.

My jerkiness has been manifesting itself as pride. Ugh. I hate that word: pride. It is a word that haunts me. Before knowing Christ I was extremely prideful and not in that cocky semi-attractive way. I was prideful in that don’t even think about telling me what to do because I already know it all kind of way.

God has definitely broken me (like a wild stallion) of much of my pride. But, every once in a while, if I’m not careful, it starts to creep back up and finds its way into my relationship with the Lord. He has been patient with me, more than I deserve. I have realized I have been a bit of a jerk recently to those around me and especially to God, thanks to that unattractive yet persistent pride of mine.

Oh, pride is ugly. It is a turn-off. It can even control you but, here are some ways to not let pride take over. Here are 10 ways to not be a jerk:

I started doing a Bible study recently called Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom. A few pages in was a chapter on humility. Mmmm, my favorite subject (umm, not really). Here the authors supply a list, comparing the humble to the proud. As I read over the list, I got a little uncomfortable.

“I don’t do that.” I thought. “I’m definitely not humble in that…I’m nothing like that…” and so on. But more than be convicted and critical of myself for where I’ve failed, I would much rather be encouraged that God is hopefully bringing me to a point of humility.

Here are the 10 things that convicted yet challenged me from Seeking Him:

1. Proud people… are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.

Humble people…are self-denying.

2. Proud people…are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.

Humble people…are eager for others to get the credit and rejoice when others  are lifted up.

3. Proud people…feel confident in what they know.

Humble people…are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

4. Proud people…keep others at arms’ length.

Humble people…are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

5. Proud people…are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.

Humble people…receive criticism with a humble open spirit.

6. Proud people…tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.

Humble people…are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

7. Proud people…are concerned about the consequences of their sin.

Humble people…are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

8. Proud people…compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.

Humble people…compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel desperate need for His mercy.

9. Proud people…have to prove they are right.

Humble people…are not argumentative.

10. Proud people…desire to be served.

Humble people…are motivated to serve others.

Number 7 was especially convicting and eye-opening for me. I will admit, when I sin, I am much more quick to think about the consequences of that sin than to consider the root cause of that sin. I am more worried about how I will look rather than how God will look in me and through me.

I’m more concerned with the fact that I am being exposed than I am with the heart issue that developed such a sin in the first place. I have a long way to go to be anywhere near the humility described here but God is faithfully bringing me along, kicking and screaming sometimes, but along nonetheless. Bye-bye jerk. Hello, Nicole.

So what on this list was convicting or challenging to you? Are there areas where you have struggled with pride, either in the past or currently? How has God grown and humbled you?

post image from future phase design

28 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways to Not Be a Jerk”

  1. I wish that I could put this in so many people’s hands…and burn it on my own heart…pride is sneaky and sometimes tries to disguise itself as “justice”. We forget that we can’t BE just….because we aren’t God.

    Thanks for this!

  2. I know you posted this a while ago, but I just read it and it is amazing. I need to have this list tatooed on my arm so I have access to it all the times!

    1. Hey, you can always comment…there is no time limit.

      I know, I love that list and I mean LOVE it. I was so convicted and encouraged by it. If you are ever looking for a study, I highly recommend that one. The whole thing is just Spirit-directed and powerful.

      It would make a pretty sweet tattoo.

  3. I’m amazed at how every time I come to read one of your posts that I can absolutely relate. I wrote an unpublished post just this Wednesday that dealt with a matter of conviction that I was going through and the reasons were for 5 out of your 10 listed! Wow! I am very protective of my time which has me lashing out unnecessarily, I keep and always have kept people at arms length because of past hurts, and I am always confident in what I know and feel I have to prove it. I also worry about consequences of my sins. I was especially convicted of this one recently because at the time I started to realize that the consequences, yes were sure to come but I needed to change. This post actually is encouraging me to post the post I’ve written and to actually take a long look at myself. I didn’t even recognize many of these as pride and actually had the audacity to consider myself humble. Thank you for taking the time to write this…you are definitely blessing your readers!

    1. Latoya,
      Taking an inventory of ourselves is never fun. I fail on the humble scale every time. But like you said it can be encouraging too.

      I’m blessed to know this list was used by God to bring some things to light!

  4. Nicole,


    I would say it is a delicate balance between some of the “proud aspects” and the “humble aspects”. I am looking at #3 specifically. Perhaps what you would label as “pride” I would call “confidence and the right ability to stand firm”.

    By the way: it is good to see you back online! J told me you were having some issues with the Internet.

    1. Donald,
      There is definitely a balance. Great point.

      My husband, who I know you respect on some level, is a great example for me.

      He is confident and whole. No real self-esteem issues, no major insecurities. However, he is also humble before God and men.

      He never spouts on about what he knows–simply shares God’s wisdom. Yet, he is also quick to admit that which he needs to learn. He even gets excited when someone admonishes him because he sees it as an opportunity to grow in the Lord.

      Thanks too for the welcome back. I spent yesterday in the hospital (see today’s post) and couldn’t even respond to comments. Sheesh..blogging is full-time business.

  5. I agree with Donald. The one that popped out to me was #10. I think humble people can prioritize serving others without condition, while still desiring to be served by others. Desiring to be loved, and served, and invested into is fine. But when we allow that to be the motivation of our actions, or the “god” of our lives, we place something on God’s throne that doesn’t deserve to be there, even if it is good.

    And I’m right there with you on #7. It’s so easy to dwell on the consequences and not on the root of the problem.

    1. Josh,
      This one is tricky for me because I don’t know if I would ever say that humble people “desire” to be served.

      Jesus, for example, was served by others (The Apostles, Mary and Martha, his own mother) and while he received this service, I don’t know that he ‘desired” it or needed it.

      It may just sound like semantics, but I think there is a distinction.

      What do you think?

  6. I think it’s going to be 6 and 7 for me, one leading into the other. I deal with generalities so that I don’t have to deal with the root of sin…speak in broad brush strokes so that I don’t look like a fool in others eyes. And knowing that I could look bad, I hide the real truth. Infinite circle of suck.

    A nice list! I’ll have to look and re-look at this to get some of it to sink in. :)

  7. I would have to say that I had an awful struggle with #3. I would tell people that I was confident in what I did and felt I did it well. I have come to see that it nothing but pure, unadulterated arrogance. There was a freedom that came from not feeling like I had to put up a front anymore. Good post Nicole. Thanks for sharing this lesson.

  8. Oh boy…I struggle with pride every single day. :(

    #4 bothered me because there are a lot of people who keep others at arm’s length because of abuse or other wounds in the past and some think it’s pride. It’s such a fine line and unfortunately when people keep others at arm’s length you can’t get in to find out with case is the best.

    1. Jason,
      I think you bring up such an interesting point.

      I certainly kept people at arms length for many years because of abuse, but when it comes down to it, it was still rooted in pride.

      I was worried about me…protecting myself…keeping myself safe. Instead of being concerned about others and their needs.

      I know it’s a tricky balance…

      1. Nicole,


        @M. Smith,

        When I first read your comments, M, I was like, “Let’s see…she is pointing out #1, #2, #3, #…waitaminute…she is naming almost all of them! Doh!”

        Ya got me on that one, M!

  9. Pride is the sneakiest and I daresay most serious of our sins. Pride is what made the devil the devil. We can somehow become proud of our humility and relationship with God.

    C.S. Lewis said humility is not having a low opinion of oneself, but rather no opinion of oneself. This is my favorite definition.

    It’s a good thing I’m so amazingly humble. The most humble in the world, people speak of my humility in songs and legends. This is a joke.

  10. Great post! The only one I kind of disagree with is number 9. Yes, proud people have to prove they’re right. But I don’t think just because you’re NOT argumentative makes you humble. I think God’s given some Christians the more vocal ability to defend what they believe–which seems an awful lot like “being argumentative” to others. But we do have to defend the scripture/exhort our sisters/brothers WITH humility, not just to prove we’re right. Anyway, I think we’re definitely wired the same way b/c I struggle w/many of these things, if I’m honest! I love Nancy Leigh DeMoss!

  11. All of these hit me in a profound way. But I must say numbers 5 and 6 tugged at my heart with the most conviction. When pride rears its ugly head, I become a blame-shifter and avoid criticism. I am also chief in generalizing my confessions to God and others. The Holy Spirit is patiently teaching me to name my sins specifically in order to claim specific victories in Christ.

  12. So very well said. I would add that proud people don’t know how to listen. Humble people are interested in what others have to say. Also, have you ever noticed how people from other cultures often ask when they see you, “How is your family?” And they really want to know the answer. So I would say, humble people are interested in others, proud people are mostly interested in themselves.

  13. Hello. I was not expecting this perspective on TheJerk. This is pride. For these 10 things I visualize selfishness. You put it as Pride. I do not see myself as a Jerk nor do others. I guess I am, after reading these things. 10 ways of the Proud, guilty of 9. So I am a Jerk. It seems I am now. My excuse is, the single game + single again + many many years of alone = Pride. Maybe I feel that’s all I have, when its not. Ive tried so hard to fix things. Maybe just fix these 9 things. The above list, – when others succeed I am happy for them, but it hurts, I just cannot get a personal life to stay together, stuck in first gear. I hold on to pride, feeling there is nothing else. Make up Pride. At least I can be proud of myself. I can be a country music song write with a alot of sad ideas of being alone. Oddly, the other basics are in place.

    1. Jen,
      Using the word “jerk” was just me being a bit sensational. It was used to write a catchy title, whereas the content of the post addresses the issue of pride.

      I think, like you, I tried to “fix” my pride issues myself. However, I soon realized that this was not possible. I had to surrender my pride to the Lord. He’s the only one who can bring real change.

  14. I love this , i have a lot to work on after going over this list . I still do a lot of stuff on the proud list . But now after reading this i can work on it and be a better person for myself and husband and most of all God . So thank you for this message.

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