The Proud trap. My husband and I had a discussion where we said pride and proud is very different to one another, pride is sinful, but being proud, is not necessarily sinful, but we need to realize there is such a fine line between the two.
When does being proud translates into pride or being puffed up? Some examples are clear-cut, others are much more subtle and you have to dig deep into your heart to see what is driving you. Today I want to bring it back to our kids. My initial thought about this was that I should not be proud of what my kids are doing, because that can lead to strife, I must only be proud of their character.
1 Cor 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Translated directly from Greek the word is physioutai which is directly translated as ‘is puffed up’, which many translations use instead of ‘proud’. We should not be puffed up.
What do I mean by strife? Well, if I compliment my children only when they do well at schoolwork, I only have joy in them when they do well, they will start to put one and one together. Can I hide my disappointment when they do not do well? Or do my behavior lead them to have pride or shame in this category? Most of the time they would want to please you as a parent, which can lead them to become people pleasers or they become wrapped up in studies to please you. This is what we would like their behavior to be most of the time, but is it sustainable? It will work for a while, until you become an adult and realize being the brightest on block does not help you with people relationships, conflict management, performance, merit, etc. This also leads us to become Marthas and not Marias. We want to please God by doing things for Him, rather than just to be sitting at His feet and be YOU without doing something.
If we decide to stop comparing our children at school, we might be interested in their good character. That sounds like a good idea, but if in my heart I am proud of their character, because they behave better than their peers, it means I have compared their characters to each other and now I become a little boastful about their character compared to the other child’s character. I want to share a story with you that is very close to home.
My son does not always behave the way I want him to, especially compared to other children his age. It is difficult for me as a mom then to be proud of his character. Does this mean I should not be proud of him? I cannot be proud of his behavior in this one area of his life. This week we are memorizing the scripture I quoted at the beginning: Love is kind, patient, not boastful, envy or proud. It was funny that he was the one that could not understand why love cannot be proud, does parents not show their love by being proud of what you have accomplished? I had to tell him (and myself of course) that it requires a bigger, deeper love to love unconditionally without having anything to be proud of. To love someone just because of who they are and not of what they are doing. Many times we as parents demonstrate our love towards our children by telling them how proud we are of them. I want to argue that the biggest demonstration of love is to love regardless of how good our children are, regardless of their achievements, their behavior. Love them for who they are, with all their flaws. That takes more effort, which is unconditional love, the kind of love that the Father have for us.
This piece might be controversial, but I would like you to think about this. How much of what you are doing is driven from your childhood and your inherent strife to make your parents proud. How much of your feelings of rejection and not being good enough comes from feeling that there is nothing in this your parents can be proud of.
I believe we can reach a new level of freedom if we don’t have to try so hard, free, because our Heavenly Father don’t expect anything from us apart from loving Him and following Him. We don’t need to be the fastest follower, the best follower, above average follower, the follower with the most followers. No, we only need to follow Him and love him and His fellow followers. No strings attached, no other requirements. He has paid the price, He has accepted us into His Kingdom, warts and all. Take this for you and try to follow His example with your children, love them unconditionally without anything to be proud of.