Note to Leaders:

The spring semester ends on April 29, and the summer semester will run June 4-July 29.  Consequently, this will be the last sermon discussion guide produced until the summer semester begins. However, if your group has been using them and is meeting during the break, here are a couple of short studies you can use in the interim.


Series Introduction

God created us to be in a relationship with others: friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, fellow small group attenders.  This series is designed to help ensure those relationships are healthy and strong.


Understanding

Demolition can be fun.  What’s better than swinging a sledgehammer at a wall and knocking it down?  It’s like you suddenly get to stop listening to your parents’ voice telling you to be careful, not to drop the dishes, and not to play baseball inside the house.

  • What’s the most expensive item you’ve ever accidentally broken?

Relationship demo day isn’t about demoing the relationships, it’s about demoing the things inside of us that keep us from having healthy relationships: anger, envy, lust, greed, selfishness, etc.

There’s one thing that, perhaps more than anything else, can poison our ability to have healthy relationships: pride.

Pride makes us defensive, it makes us keep arguing even when we know we’re wrong, it causes us to lie about our pasts, exaggerate our accomplishments, and pad our resumes. It keeps us from learning new things and asking directions. It forces us to cheat rather than lose and to spend money we don’t have.

Ultimately, it isolates us not only from other people but from God.

  • In your experience, how does pride impact people’s lives?

  • Do you agree or disagree with the idea that pride isolates us from God and others? If you agree, what are some of the ways this happens?  If you disagree, why do you disagree?

Pride reduces our capacity to give and receive love.

We start walking into rooms thinking, “Here I am!” instead of “There you are!”  Pride devalues people. It causes us to always size up the room, to rank others on all kind of shallow criteria, and of course, you always rank yourself at the top

Pride makes it really hard to say all of those phrases that are essential to any relationship:

  • I love you.

  • I’m proud of you.

  • I need you.

  • I was wrong.

  • I’m sorry.

Pride causes us to become controlling and intimidating, and when people feel like they have to walk around on eggshells around you, then you’re not in a healthy relationship.

We all struggle with ego and pride, so don’t be thinking, “I wish so and so was here at small group tonight,” because all of us are fixer-uppers, we all need demo and renovation, especially when it comes to pride and selfishness.

  • How can we move from a “Here I am” to a “There you are” mentality?

Have a volunteer read Philippians 2:1-8.

Jesus taught and modeled this radical version of humility, one that unlocks the prison cell of pride.  Jesus redefined greatness.  He said that if you want to be first, go last. If you want to be great, serve.  Greatness isn’t something you ascend to but rather something you descend into.

This is how you demo your pride. You choose radical humility. You choose the mindset of Jesus.  You roll out of bed and make a conscious choice—and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you—to live as if you are not the center of the universe.

Jesus is God.  Jesus is the center of the universe, and yet he chose to put others first, to put their needs above his own.  If anyone could have rightfully put himself first, it was Jesus.  But He didn’t.  He laid down His rights, His position, His status, for others… for us.

Jesus came in as much obscurity as someone could. He was born in a cave with shepherds and manure all around.  He grew up in a hick town with a bad reputation and made his living as a carpenter.

Jesus—God himself—came to earth as a lowly servant.

  • What is one thing you can do differently this week to put the needs of someone else above your own needs?

How does pride play out in your life?

If you don’t know, it’s a guarantee that someone else will.  Ask them, “What do you see? Do you think I have a pride problem?”

If they get real quiet, swallow real hard, and look at the ground, you have your answer.

But be honest, ask yourself and someone else, how does pride play out in you?  Do you exaggerate or boast? Do you get defensive or envious? Are you obsessed with the number of Instagram followers someone else has?  Do you have trouble showing affection? Do you have a hard time showing weakness?  Do you find it difficult to serve others?  Do you find it difficult to allow others to serve you?

  • How does pride manifest itself in your life?

Pride is really good at masquerading as something else.

One of the most obvious ways is as confidence. There’s nothing wrong with being confident.  Jesus was confident in who he was.  But there’s a big difference between confidence and arrogance… and unfortunately to the person who is confident… or arrogant, they are easily confused.

Pride can also disguise itself with intellect, fashion, fitness, religion, ethnicity, financial status, and even false humility.  So we need to be really honest with ourselves.

  • How does pride disguise itself in your life?

Maybe today you grab your sledgehammer and start swinging.

“Hey pride, you know what, you’re coming down!  I’m sick of you cheating me out of life, and love, and joy.  You are not my boss. You are not my warden. You are not the center of the universe. You are not the ruler of my life!”

Maybe you need to help someone without any recognition.  Maybe you need to hug your kids and tell them how proud you are of them even though you don’t like some of the decisions they’ve made.  Maybe you need to hold your wife’s hand, write an old friend a letter, or let go of a grudge.

Maybe you need to start attending Celebrate Recovery to deal with an addiction, go to counseling, get some help with your finances, or stop trying to control everything and trust God.

  • What change do you need to make to demo your pride?