I was recently meeting with a young man in our church who has been very successful in business. Originally from Silicon Valley, he climbed his company's corporate ladder before taking six months off to focus on family, faith, and personal health. He's gotten to a really healthy place personally and spiritually and so he's recently decided to get back in the game and apply for some jobs.
A corporate headhunter helped him find two great jobs pretty quickly. One is with a startup in a new industry that would pay a lot but also require a lot of hours. A second is with a household-name tech giant that would pay less but allow for a better balance of work, family, and church.
It wasn't easy for him and we met for several straight weeks as he labored over his decision. He finally told me that he was willing to prioritize the right things even if it meant sacrificing money. He knows that money isn't necessarily wrong or evil, but that the money that was so enticing for this job would come with some trade-offs in his life that aren't worth it.
I told him that I was proud of him and that that I thought it was very wise for him in this season of life to take less money for a better work-life balance.
You can imagine my surpirse, then, when we met the following week and he told me that he turned down the balanced job and took the lucrative job with the smaller startup.
When I asked what happened, he hung his head and said that the job title offered by the tech giant was what he couldn't stomach. He'd gotten himself to a place where taking less money was palatable, but not where a lesser title was palatable. (They offered him a senior manager position when his level of expertise and qualifications should give him a job with the word "director" in the position title.)
"It's pride. I know it's nothing but pride. But taking the lesser position would negate all the work and progress I've made. It would look poorly on me if I were to change jobs later on down the road."
So, here he is again--back in the rat race. He's working 80-hour weeks and having to leave his family to travel all over the world. He dealt with his temptation to greed, but as soon as he did pride took its place.
This is how sin works. It's a shape-shifter. We must remain vigilant against it and fill up our affections with the love of Christ because merely removing a love (e.g., greed) is insufficient because another love will take its place (e.g., pride). This illustration is also a reminder of the interconnectedness of our idols. We can't just focus on one struggle or temptation in our lives. There is rarely ever one single thing that is lurking to take us down. It's usually a web of temptations.
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5).