Pride-- In the Name of Love

I am one of those rare people who is impacted by time differently than just about everyone else.  As school came closer and closer to starting, just about every parent I know posted the same thing, more or less, on Facebook: "I can't believe my kid is going to be a ninth grader [insert your kid's class here].  Where has the time gone?"  Time just does not work on me that way.

So when Christy and I took James (3rd) and Miles (K) to Rucker on Monday I didn't think to myself: "It seems like only a week ago that these guys were born at Baylor Dallas."  I did worry if Miles would be able to navigate the halls of Rucker (if I ever get caught trapped by myself there I'll be in big trouble), but I knew he'd figure it out just like James did three years ago.  I had a few tears well up for each kid as I left their classroom, but not for their growing-- for pride in the boys they are.  I had the same feeling the day before when James was part of a dozen 3rd graders receiving their Bibles.  And a couple of nights later when he wanted to read from his new Bible the stories from his picture Bible he has read at night for years.  Or last night, when Miles read Go Dogs Go to me.  Pride, lots and lots of pride.  In fact, I am proud to be proud!

The same thing goes for our church.  I am very proud of PUMC.  We blessed nearly 70 backpacks last Sunday-- the kids were packed three rows deep at the Communion rail!  A dozen kids received Bibles (Hannah Pappas: I dropped yours off to be inscribed yesterday-- I'll let you know when I get it back).  We've already received as many new members in 2010 as we did in all of 2009.  25 people are enrolled in Disciple courses; 0 in 2008.  God is doing great things through PUMC-- lives are being changed in profound ways-- and each of us should be very proud.

I know what you are thinking: "Doesn't Proverbs say, 'Pride goes before destruction?'" (16:18).  "Isn't pride one of the seven deadly sins?"  "Isn't pride at the heart of the Tower of Babel story?" (Genesis 11).  YES!  But that's a different sort of pride.  Finish the proverb: "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."  That kind of pride draws attention to one's self: "Look at how smart my kids are!"  "Look at how much more beautiful my house is than yours!"  "Look at me and see what I have done!"  Sinful pride brings attention to ourselves while at the same time pushing others beneath us.

I am the first to admit that my pride in my boys is not because I am the most awesome Dad in the universe.  They've had excellent teachers at church and school, wonderful family ties, and great relationships.  I am the first to admit that my pride in PUMC is not because I am the most awesome pastor.  We have many dedicated folk who work to make the church better/stronger/healthier, often in ways that are unseen.  Many, many people contribute on a daily basis to make this pride possible.  And I acknowledge, recognize, and am grateful for each one of them.

So whatever achievements my boys earn, whatever recognitions PUMC earns (or not), I will be proud, because I know they/we are doing well out of a sense of commitment.  James' teachers asked all the parents to write a letter to their kid to be kept at the back of their notebook.  I used the phrase "proud of you" more than once.  I use it to describe my feelings about the church.  Pride can be dangerous when it's only about building ourselves up and tearing others down, but when it is other-focused, thankful, and mindful of God's work it can be a powerful thing.

So be proud of your kids.  Be proud of your church.  Be proud of your own achievements.  But always remember: we/the church/our kids belong to Christ, "...and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope" (Hebrews 3:6b).