Pride and Prejudice


Hey everyone! So last week as I watched Wes stand up here and give his testimony, though he did a wonderful job, I thought to myself that I was glad it was not me. So here I am this week. And it is an honor to be up here to share some of what God, not myself, has done in my life.

My name is Brad Hough, and I have been married for five years to a wonderful woman named Stephanie, who is a passionate lover of Jesus, of our children (Braden 2 and Vera 2 months), and of me. We are currently in the process of raising support to move our family to the Middle East to pursue God’s heart in missions, and we would not be heading to the mission field as organized as we are without her talents.

You also may know my family, Tommy, Carmen, and Brittany who have been here for about the past 15 years. My parents are very involved with the youth and teach 11th and 12th grade Sunday school. I am fortunate to have a family like them, and they have made huge impacts and blessed me more than they’ll ever know.

Introduction of Identity

Over the course of my life, God by His grace has done many things. I was blessed to be able to grow up here at FBC Jonesboro where I was given a firm foundation in who Jesus is, what His gospel is, and how important it is to be grounded in the Word of God. I have had many people invest in my life, and when I am here, it feels like family. It was here that I was saved at the age of 17. And it was also here that I began to journey with God in the area of my identity. Who am I, and where does my value come from?

High School

So I attended Jonesboro High and graduated in 2001. While I was in school, I looked to a multitude of things to tell me who I was and to make me feel valuable. Among them was how I performed in sports, whether or not I was viewed as a good kid, my grades, and being respected by the guys, and liked by the girls. Let’s just say that I dealt with insecurity. Fortunately, I have heard it said that 95% of guys are insecure and the other 5% are liars, so at least I was in good company.

To deal with my insecurities, I developed coping mechanisms, and a lot of that was through comparisons. The way that I did this was that if someone was better than me in something, I was bound to be better than him in something else, so in my mind, I would find my competitive advantage and accentuate that aspect of life. For instance if someone could beat me at basketball, I took comfort in the fact that I had a better grade in Math.

You see, Paul has some pretty tough language for people who “compare themselves amongst themselves.” He says that they are “without understanding.” While that was not the whole of who I was, that aspect of my life was definitely without understanding.


I took this mentality into college, where I attended the University of Georgia. Prior to going into college, I decided to room with a great guy who was not a believer. We became good friends and would hang out together on the weekends. I would also hang out with his friends and go to the places that they would go. So, if there was a party, I was there. If there were not a party, we would go downtown to the bars. The difference between my friends and I was that many of them drank, cursed, and slept with their girl friends. I did not; I read my Bible and abstained from all of the hot button issues. While this seemed all right, it was actually a spiritually dangerous place for me. See by finding my value through comparing my behavior to the behavior of my unbelieving friends, I was able to set my own standard of godly living and to achieve my own form of goodness. I was well-liked, a good guy, and viewed as a good Christian by my peers because I did not do the “bad” stuff, but I was not a verbal witness for Christ, nor was I being challenged to go deeper in my relationship with God. I could have continued in that lifestyle for my entire college career, and been fine with it, but it probably would have ended with me leading the same type of lifestyle as my peers because as Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’”

Fortunately God had a bigger purpose and brought people into my life to pull me out of that prideful trap and get me into a community of believers to whom I became accountable.

My friend Jason was the first person. He was a lot like me, in that he was the “good” one in an otherwise fleshly crowd, so when our friends got together, we met and started going to church at Prince Ave. Baptist where we able to plug into a group of believers who loved Jesus.

While at Prince, I was able to meet my future wife Stephanie, who taught me that it was all right to be vulnerable and to talk to others about your relationship with Jesus outside of the four walls of church. That was huge, and added great depth to my walk with Jesus.

And then there was Britt; he was a guy from South Georgia who taught me about grace, the greatness of our sin, and as a result, the greatness of our savior. There were many others, but these guys made very significant impacts on me and helped shape many of my views.


After college, I was fortunate enough to get a job at Delta. It was there that I received a new identity: “Mikey.” Apparently when you mix a bunch of grandmas and a guy who is just out of college, food will be involved, and I am forever grateful for the many meals that followed the line, “Just give it to Mikey, he’ll eat it!”


Also while at Delta, my wife Stephanie and I found out about an opportunity to serve Jesus as missionaries in the Middle East. We went with an organization called Antioch Ministries International (AMI) who had the idea to get a bunch of recent graduates and young professionals and send them over to a war-torn country to share the gospel and plant churches for a year. So we signed up and went as a team of 21 college English professors to the Middle East and had a great year. However, even though we had a great year there were still some identity issues.

So if you think back to my early college days how I said that I found value in being the “good” or “religious” guy of my group, this was the complete opposite. The people who went with us to the Middle East were the All-Stars of Christian living. All of them loved Jesus, they were worshippers in Spirit and in truth, and they prayed really, really loudly. And I was quiet, introverted me. So where did I look to find my value? I thought to myself that I was going to be a man of the Word and grace. My thought was that if I could be more open with my sins and very knowledgeable about the Bible then I would be worthy to be a part of such a great team. While these are great things, looking to what I do to define me instead of who Jesus says that I am only leads to pride in success or despair in failure.

But even with that, we still had a great year, and God did amazing things in all of us. So, when we came back to America, we moved out to Waco, TX where AMI is based, to a body of young, passionate lovers of Jesus. We went through a discipleship training school called Elevate, and there was a big focus on making sure that we were looking to Jesus and who Scripture says that we are in Him to find our value, not what we do. As I was taking these identity teachings in, I would like to say that I immediately applied them and that comparison was no longer an issue, but it was. I still had a tendency to look to my own areas of strength in comparison to others to tell me that I was valuable, or to give me my identity.

One day, I was in a worship service. It was a highly emotional environment. People were lifting their hands, lying on the floor, and crying; I was not feeling a lot. What I was feeling though was the weight of my own comparisons, unworthiness and inadequacy to be with such a passionate people. So I went to the back of the room to pray. Honestly, I just wanted the service to end. But God had other plans. While I was praying, God used the memory of a movie to bring the identity issue from head knowledge to heart knowledge.

Now men, don’t judge me, but God brought a scene from the movie “Pride and Prejudice.” At the end of the American version of the movie, the main characters, Darcy and Elizabeth, are sitting together, presumably after just having been wed. She is telling him what name he should call her in different situations such as Lizzie for everyday situations and Ms. Po for Sundays. Eventually, he asks her when he should call her by his own name, Darcy. And she says only when you are “completely and perfectly and incandescently happy.” So he begins to continually call her by his own name, “Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy,” over and over again, obviously indicating that he is completely and indescribably happy with her.

God used this clip to remind me that when we become believers and are saved, He gives us His name and identity; we are children of God and the Bride of Christ. We are given the mind of Christ, the Spirit of Christ and the identity of Christ. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of Christ in Him.” Paul says that he regards no one according to the flesh but instead we are a new creation. And when I realized that God saw me as a new creation, then I could claim Zephaniah 3:14-17 over my life, basically that because of who He has now made me, He is “completely and perfectly and incandescently happy” with me. Zephaniah 3 says, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst. You shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing…”

This is the joyful God whom we serve. The one whom when we repent from our unbelief and place our faith in Him gives us His name and His reputation as our identity. And when we do, He does comfort us with His love, and rejoices over us with loud singing and dancing.

Now, I would like to say that after that moment of revelation, that I walked out in my new identity always, but the truth is that if I did, I would probably love a lot more and sin a lot less. But it is a continual process of renewing my mind and reminding myself of who I am in Christ. God has now given me that marker so that when I am looking to my own actions to give me value and the Holy Spirit convicts me of that sin, I am able to go back to the fact that I am a new creation called by my Father’s name and it allows me to work from a place of being accepted rather than working for acceptance.