It's not every day that someone looks you right in the eye and says:
"You're a very proud man - you know that?"
Here I am, teaching in the African desert, and one of my colleagues comes straight out with it. You're proud. Pretty direct. My reply?
"Yup - I've got all kinds of pride issues. But you need to tell me why you think I'm proud."
So the young teacher explained how pride had surfaced in me. How I'd spoken unwisely to another teacher, my body language, my tone of voice... The list was fair and convicting.
As far as I can see, I will wrestle with pride issues as long as there is breath in my lungs.
A friend once said that he thought that he was a decent bloke until he got married. Then he began to realise how selfish he was. Being a missionary has had a similar effect on me: I thought I was doing okay being a Christian, until I became a missionary in Kenya.
For me, I never grew up dreaming of being a missionary in Africa - never. People do, but I didn't. I dreamed of playing for Manchester United or living next to Disneyland. Simple stuff.
Sounds dramatic, but God led me here.
The very title 'missionary' was reserved in my mind for very pious people who are probably quite boring - not blessed with the 'fun gene'. Serious folk on some other plane of existence to the rest of us (okay, so, I got that wrong!!). Nevertheless, I'm a missionary (I do often think of those missionaries back home, who do not have the title "missionary", who carry on telling people about Jesus, largely unknown and never to get recognition in this life. They keep going because they love Jesus. They love people).
And for those who REALLY know me - yup, I still do stupid stuff. I can come across as proud and harsh. Sorry if you've ever been on the receiving end!
But God's using me anyway. And God's changing me, because He loves me too much to leave me as I am.
The bit in the Bible that comes to mind is from Romans 12v3:
"Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves..."
This post might be a step in the right direction then...