Day 11: Pride
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Occasionally, you may read a bumper sticker boasting: “I am the proud parent of an honor student at such-and-such school.” Your prideful response may either be, “Psssh! My child is smarter than yours” or “Why don’t you just keep that to yourself.” I’ve even seen the bumper sticker rebuke: “My kid can beat up your honor student.” Pride is one of the greatest pitfalls in parenting (Prov. 16:18), for we usually see pride in others before we see it in ourselves. We blindly believe that proud people must be boastful, yet arrogance need not be flamboyant. Boasters express their pride aloud, while the bashful keep it in. You can be quiet and reserved but still be sanctimonious or you might be like whiny Moses (Exod. 4:10-14a) instead of hardhearted Pharaoh.
God tells Moses, “Go,” but Moses insists, “I can’t!”
God tells him, “I have given you everything you need.” Moses objects, “I don’t think so.”
At first glance, Moses appears humble, yet God rebukes the fear of man rooted in his pride (Prov. 29:25). Moses thinks too much of himself: “What should I say? What if they don’t listen? What if I fail? I’m not very eloquent.” In his pride, Moses takes his focus off the Lord even as he stands barefoot in the Lord’s holy presence. So also, you may be concerned that if you don’t look out for yourself, then no one else will. You believe that you can save your children by good works, instead of grace. You seek the approval of man vicariously through your kids. You are driven by, “What will people think?” rather than, “How does God want me to disciple my children?” Moses eventually learned humility when he rested his identity in the Lord (Num. 12:3). Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
During a family dinner at a public restaurant, one of my boys hand-sculpted a volcano out of mashed potatoes and made it erupt with pepperoni lava. Then just as I glanced in his direction, he plunged his face into his plate and devoured the volcano like a rabid dog. I yelped with horror: “No! Stop! Use a fork!” Yet I thought to myself after the trauma: “Why was I horrified?”
It wasn’t as the concerned parent: “How is this boy ever going to find a wife?”
It wasn’t as the concerned citizen: “Are we disturbing the other diners in this restaurant?”
Rather, I was horrified because of pride: “My barbarian son’s manners reflect terribly on me as a parent.”
Dads, the way you respond to embarrassment, conflict, criticism, or success depicts the state of your heart. If pride dwells in your heart, then any kind of pressure will force it out (4:23). You don’t need to wait, however, for pride to surface. Instead, ask the Lord to illuminate any prideful thoughts or behavior to which you are blind. You need God’s help to recognize sin (Ps. 139:23). Then confess both the fruit of your pride and its root. For example, confess your outburst of anger against a misbehaving child and also your people-pleasing heart which led to that prideful response.
Secondly, cultivate humility by fearing the Lord instead of man (Prov. 29:25). Trust the Father for your own self-worth and the Savior for your children’s well-being. Daily gaze upon the cross and humbly recognize the ugliness of sin, for Jesus gave his life so that you might live. He paid the price for undeserving sinners. You cannot be a prideful parent if you keep the cross of Christ continually before you. You will not seek the approval of man or compare yourself with others when you are focused on Christ alone.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I am a prideful parent who often finds my identity and success in the achievements of my children. Help me to entrust my children to you. Let me rejoice in every way you bless them and cling to you in every trial. Teach me to parent for your glory and not for mine. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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