4 Warning Signs of a Prideful Heart in Leadership

There’s a Native American story about three Menominee warriors who journey to a sacred place, where they offer tobacco to a great spirit. In exchange, the spirt grants each of them a wish.

The first asks for the skills to be a better hunter, “for I have a big family and I’m not able to feed them.” His wish is granted. The second asks for a wife, “for I have everything and no one to share it with.” His wish also is granted. The third gives it some thought and then asks for eternal life, “for I want to live forever.” His wish is granted, too – and he’s transformed into a spirit rock.

You’ve been there, haven’t you? Not standing before a spirit offering tobacco in exchange for a wish to be granted. But you’ve worked hard to get somewhere and thought, “It’s time for the pay off!”

That’s when temptation attacks a leader – the temptation of a prideful heart. It’s the byproduct of success. It convinces you that you have all the answers, you are the expert, and you deserve the credit. It tells you that you’ve earned the rewards and you should get what you want while the getting is good.

A prideful heart is filled with self and loses sight of a leader’s true purpose – transforming the lives of others. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to see before it’s too late. We charge forward, driven by our prideful heart until the next thing we know – we’re transformed into a spirit rock.

Ask yourself these four questions to determine if you’re developing a prideful heart as a leader:

Who helped you get where you are today?

If you struggle to come up with the names or specific ways in which others have helped you advance, then you likely have a prideful heart. None of us advance in life without some help. The names of those who’ve helped us should roll easily off our tongues.

What dominates your conversations?

Consider the last few discussions you’ve had with someone. What did you talk about? If you are struggling with a prideful heart, you most likely focused on these three topics: What I’ve done. What I’m doing. What I’m planning to do.

Who knows about the last mistake you made?

A prideful heart denies responsibility for mistakes or glosses over errors to protect a reputation. It either says, “I’m not wrong” or “I won’t let anyone know I was wrong.” You’ve made mistakes recently. Probably today. If no one knows about them, then here’s what’s standing in the way of your transparency: A prideful heart.

When was the last time you asked for help?

Leaders who struggle with a prideful heart make key decisions without input from their team and they seldom look to anyone when they are struggling with the issues of life. Open your heart to the opinions of others. Put your trust in them and watch how it leads them to put their trust in you.

Is a prideful heart turning you into a rock?

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  1. Ruth

    Thank you for the mirror you’ve put in front of my heart! Pride was the reason for the fall of Satan. I do not want to follow his demise but be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, my God and my Savior!

    Reply to Ruth

  2. Bisola Orimalade

    Thank you for this message. This will help me as I start my Ministry. I pray I stay focused on the Lord and His mandate.

    Reply to Bisola Orimalade

  3. Greg


    I seriously enjoy your writings…much needed in my earlier life, however, never to late to learn…

    Reply to Greg

    1. Walt Rakowich

      Thank you, Greg. Glad to have you here. And no, never too late to learn. I’m still doing it!

      Reply to Walt Rakowich

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