Friday, 19 November 2010


Just when you think you are safe, that old enemy called Pride creeps up on again to stick his leg out in front of you and trip you up. Smack! You fall with a crash landing and realise what has happened, while Pride sniggers to himself and skitters away back into the shadows.

We all know that old proverb (Proverbs 16 v 18) "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before stumbling" but how many of us are aware of when it actually happens?

I have been thinking recently about whether it is acceptable to be 'proud' of our children, or whether this will also cause us to trip up again. It is only natural that we celebrate our children's achievements with them, and encourage them along the way. It is fitting that we feel pleased for them when they pass a test at school, learn to tie their shoelaces or behave in a caring way for someone. Sometimes though, this can be taken too far and I have heard many parents (probably myself included) boasting about their child's capabilities or exceptional development. Did their child really potty train themselves at 6 months?! Is their daughter really taking her GCSE's at 7 years old?! We are left wondering....

Why do we do this boasting? Is it, in fact, that we are proud of our own parenting skills rather than our children? Or do we want to make ourselves look like perfect parents? And where does the 'trip' come?

My 'trip' is almost certainly in my children's behaviour. Their disobedience ("I'm not ever going to do what you say ever again"), disrespect ("Yes Mum, pooface, bumhead.") and perpetual fighting with one another, whilst wrong, serves as my constant humility-developer. One moment Max is praying beautiful prayers and making up his own angelic songs about God's love, the next he is kicking Jonah under the table. Toby can go to the men's prayer breakfast and pray for a whole hour with all the men, and then come home and cause havoc by fighting and arguing with his brothers. Jonah can share so kindly with other children at a toddler group and then, when asked to put on his coat, stick his tongue out at me and run in the opposite direction.

Of course, they are just children and we would expect them to still need to learn and grow in their obedience and the way they relate to one another. We would also expect them to have moments of goodness when they make the right choices. Is it wrong to be 'proud' of them in those moments? I don't think so. What is wrong is when we might think they are better than everyone else's children. They soon prove us differently when their behaviour changes and we curl into a embarrassed ball as they roll around the floor kicking and screaming as though the world is at an end.

What do we do with Pride, then? Be ready. Be aware. Be waiting for him. He is waiting to trip us up. He is sneaking around in the background, biding his time until he can pounce on us again. When we feel that inner glow about our children, let's make sure it is not going to come crashing down around us. Let's be diligent in encouraging our children, but realistic in making sure that our own shortcomings of pride don't cause us to have a tumble.

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