Beware the Ego!

8/8/19 5:30 AM

Proverbs 10.17
“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof wanders aimlessly and leads others astray.”

You can protect your ego or you can get better. You can’t do both. 

We all need instruction and correction. As this proverb teaches, learning from one’s mistakes is a key to gaining wisdom, getting on the right path, and living an effective life. We must listen to and learn from the feedback that we receive from teachers and mentors. We must listen to and learn from the instruction of scripture and the Holy Spirit. We must learn from the feedback we get from our life experiences. We must learn from the lessons of history. We must learn from the successes and failures of others. 

If we want to grow, we must be an apprentice. A disciplined student. A continuous learner. Literally ... a disciple.

Once again the word for “instruction” is musar, which is a constant theme in Proverbs. Musar is the heart of spiritual growth and the key driver in the development of wisdom. It is the discipline-driven process of being taught, doing work, receiving corrective feedback, making improvements based on the feedback, and then doing the work again at a greater level of skill.

Get instruction … do the reps … get feedback … make adjustments … go again. Proverbs says that this disciplined process of musar is “the path of life.” It is how God designed the Christian life to be lived: Steady, systematic growth over time through consistent instruction, feedback, and correction.

Having said that, the reality is that it’s common for people to get defensive when they get feedback. But if you resist or reject feedback, then you aren’t on the path to life. The proverb says that people who reject the path are not only headed in the wrong direction, but they also lead others in the wrong direction.

The problem is ego. Of course we make mistakes. Of course we experience failure, Mistakes and failure are an inevitable part of our journey through life. But when ego gets involved, we try to hide our mistakes. We rationalize our failures. We resist correction in an attempt to protect our image. 

Use failure as feedback. Failure is a lesson, not a loss. Failing doesn’t attack you. It teaches you. Failure is your friend if you learn from it.

Here are 10 signs that your ego is out of control:

1. You find yourself in an intense debate, and you won’t back down until you have ‘won’ the argument.

2. You compare yourself to people who you feel are better than you.

3. You compare yourself to people who you feel are not as good as you.

4. You feel jealous when other people do well.

5. You talk about yourself for 10 minutes before asking others how they are.

6. You’d rather win than do your best.

7. You blame others when things don’t go your way.

8. You are a poor listener.

9. You get defensive when someone gives you feedback.

10. You want others to do things for you, but you hesitate to do things for others.

Defeating ego is a daily battle, and we must stay vigilant.

Trust God. Do the work. Say no to ego and yes to humility.

You can protect your ego or you can get better. You can’t do both.






Tim Kight

Written by Tim Kight

Founder of Focus 3, Tim focuses on the critical factors that distinguish great organizations from average organizations. He delivers a powerful message on the mindset & skills at the heart of individual & organizational performance.

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