...your kingdom shall be confirmed [i.e., restored] for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. (Daniel 4:26b, ESV)
If Nebuchadnezzar is the paramount example of pride in the Bible, then certainly Jesus is the ultimate model of humility. Nebuchadnezzar clung to his greatness and yet ultimately lost it; but, Jesus surrendered his greatness and, as a result, won it forever. He "humbled himself" and now God has exalted him forever (Phil. 2). Pride seeks to control people; humility instead yields itself up to God's control.
Humility is not only the antithesis of pride; it is the antidote for it. Either we will learn to "humble ourselves" or we should be prepared for God to humble us.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you . . . . (1 Pet. 5:5b-6, ESV)
Perhaps God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to rise so high and then to fall so far as an example to us of the fact that it is God and God alone, who raises up and brings down. Once he had been disciplined by God, the freshly-humbled King of Babylon had a whole new view. In his words:
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High . . . . Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:34,37, ESV)
Surely the most subtle lie Pride ever tells a leader is this: "Pride is always someone else's problem, not mine." That's it. When you swallow that one, whether politician, businessman or pastor, you have been caught by Pride itself and caught deeply. The days of your leadership influence are then numbered. At that point, either repent or hold onto your seat. "Those who walk in pride he is able to humble."
Ultimately, God met up with Nebuchadnezzar. He went to great lengths to ensure that no matter how high this leader rose, that even from the top of his world he would come to find that he was still living under a Mighty Hand. When tempted to overreach or underestimate, today's leader would be wise to take note of the man who once sat on top of the world.