Nothing can be cuter than two or three year olds absolutely insisting they know something is right when they have it entirely confused. It doesn’t matter how much evidence you provide that they are wrong, this child (not yours or mine of course) will stubbornly stick to the original statement. Most parents eventually shrug it off and figure over time the child will learn he is incorrect and will change his mind.
Unfortunately, many children never outgrow this habit. They read something somewhere or hear it from someone they admire or sometimes just figure something out independently. No matter what evidence you provide to the contrary, they will not even consider another viewpoint. Throw in a bit of adolescent indestructibility with a dash of “old people are stupid” and you have a recipe for arrogance and pride.
We don’t call it that of course. In our society, pride and arrogance are often extolled as virtues under titles like self-esteem (there is a healthy self-esteem, but this isn’t it) or self-assured or even confident. By not calling pride when we see it and correcting it, we set our children up for all kinds of problems. There are negative earthly consequences for prideful people (and spiritual ones as well).
The problem with prideful people is they can’t be taught anything. They don’t need to change anything. Frankly, they don’t even need to listen to anyone. They have life figured out and no one can do it better than they can. If they don’t know something, surely you can’t have figured it out before them. The idea you might know a better way of doing something or a wiser way of thinking and behaving is beyond their comprehension.
I see this a lot in my ministry. Groups bring me in to teach people more effective ways of reaching children for God. Most of the participants are excited – asking questions, taking notes, thinking about what they want to improve and what is working for them. There are always one or do though that I can tell are totally disengaged. When I talk to them later, inevitably the conversation revolves around the person knowing they are doing everything perfectly because someone told them they were “doing a great job.” If I stay around to observe the program in action later or notice the way they parent their child, almost without exception the arrogant person is the one whose students or children are learning the least about God.
Pride is so deceptive. Satan is the father of lies and guess what prideful people want to hear the most? How wonderful they are and what a great job they are doing. Here’s the sad truth I have discovered. In our drive to be “Christian” and “nice”, people lie all of the time. We rarely give each other honest feedback that would help people grow and improve their skills. Children especially often have praise heaped on them as if they were the next Mozart or Da Vinci. When prideful people hear the lie they are perfect, it just makes them more prideful. And they and the world are a lot worse off because of that arrogance.
It is going to be extremely difficult for your children to be loving, productive, Christians if they are prideful. On the outside, it may appear they are, but inside their hearts will be like those of the Pharisees. More than anyone, the Pharisees should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. They were just too prideful to admit it. If they allowed Jesus to be their Messiah, they could no longer hold the top spot in their little world. If you don’t raise humble children, they too will struggle with giving God the top spot in their lives He deserves and demands. That comes with consequences none of us want for our children.
In my next post, I will give you some tips for raising humble children (she says humbly!). In the meantime, take a look at your kids. Watch their behavior and listen to their speech. Are they humble or do you see evidence of a proud heart and a haughty spirit?