This is an issue that I as a Christian writer have been struggling with. As Christians we are called to be humble, that pride can be dangerous. As a writer, I am often called upon to promote my own work. I often find myself putting my ideas or work down, saying that “it’s not that great” or “not to be full of myself or anything, but….”. I have wrestled with the idea of taking pride in my work, but not bragging or taking more credit than I should.
In thinking about the difference between pride and vanity, I can’t help but remember a passage in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, where Elizabeth’s sister Mary gives her opinion of the two. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us” (Pride and Prejudice, page 27).
It raises a good point. Pride focuses more on the things a person does, while vanity is more about the person. Pride says “Look what I’ve done” while vanity says “Look at me”. Still, it can be hard to justify pride as a good thing.
To a certain extent, people in general need to take pride in their work and talents. This can contradict the teachings of many churches. Not that I think that humility is bad; I simply think it can be overstressed, especially when ignoring the positive aspects of pride. As a teacher recently pointed out to me, we are all gifted by God and we are responsible for honing and using that gift. To downplay those talents and skills is disrespectful.
It still isn’t easy as a writer to pitch an idea to someone. You are essentially saying “Here is my story. You should pick it over everyone else’s because mine is better.” That is very hard for me to do. I want to downplay the things I think are well done, but at the same time, I want to point them out and say “Look at that! Look what I did!”
Part of the solution is realizing that my talent is God-given. He gives me the words to put on paper and I can’t take full responsibility for them. However, I can take credit for practicing, honing my skill. I take the time to develop my craft and I am proud of the progress I have made. Talent can only take a person so far; you have to be committed to developing that talent and using it well.
I know that this doesn’t provide an easy answer. It’s not something I can do, and I doubt I’ll every fully figure it out. But for now, I’ll work on my attitude about my work. I’ll try to be proud without being vain. And I will do my best to keep my work at a level that deserves that pride.
Comment below with something that you are proud of doing or accomplishing. I won’t be posting this weekend, as I’m going on a retreat.
Until next time fellow wonderers!
3 thoughts on “Pride vs. Vanity”
I’ll start! I’m working on a short story that is funny and well-developed. I am very proud of the work I’ve done so far.
Great thoughts, Katie. It’s something to be aware of, for sure. As believers, I think God is pleased when we take what he’s given us, hone it, and share it because it’s great–because he helped us make it great. As with the issue of pride in general, if you’re worried about it and aware of its pitfalls, you probably aren’t prideful. Yet being constantly careful will help you if/when you become a famous writer . . .
I don’t know why my comment is coming up through pwrtaylor and not my WordPress account. The above one is from Prof Taylor.