Too Much Pride To Be Prideful

I have to too much pride to be prideful.  A few days ago, I was discussing leadership with my friend Cindy Hopkins.  Pride became a topic of discussion as she had been reading Lead Like Jesus, by Ken Blanchard.

Mr. Blanchard defines pride as an overly high opinion of yourself, exaggerated esteem of self, haughtiness, and arrogance.  For good measure he adds Romans 12:3, “Thinking about yourself more than you should.”

Well I must admit, while Cindy was speaking I was thinking of all those poor saps who are so full of themselves.  There really are some pride filled folks out there.  You know those individuals that have a high and mighty attitude that have so much pride they could never have pride.

The next morning in my daily devotionals I come across this, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom – Proverbs 11:2 ESV.”  Of course, I am thinking, “Praise God there is wisdom for the humble.”

The following day my devotionals actually found a crevice to sneak into my heart.  “And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.”  ( Exodus 36:2 ESV)  Nothing about pride, but humbling to see the skills of the craftsman had little to do with the men.  Their skills had everything to do with the Lord who graciously gave them.

They were wired by God with skills like an electrician wires a house for electricity.  The house certainly can’t take credit.

Obviously that was not enough for me, so the New Testament reading for the day brought me to John 15:5.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Anything of worth in my life is not a blessing from me.  I like to pridefully take credit for the great things.  The reality is the fruit is not my working.  It is His.

As a leader, it sure is easy to fall into this trap.  Pride is so omnipresent.  It pours from my flesh like sweat on a hot South Georgia day.  I wish good ole sweet iced tea could quench it!

For me when I think I have most escaped it, I have fallen head long into pride.  The moment I take credit, humility has left the building.

On most days the best pride defeater is having the ability to recognize my pride-meter rising.  Following the guidance of Mayberry’s Barney Fife, this is the time to “nip it in the bud.”  Once nipped, I don’t take credit!  But then I must be careful that I don’t have pride in my ability to recognize and stop my prideful behavior.

Pride is a well hidden, intricate trap indeed.

How do you fight the omnipresence of pride?

What are your thoughts on the label, too much pride to be prideful?  Have you been there?

Dogs in Heat…Really?

I am ready for the term “at risk youth” to be extinct.  This common youth label starts youth on a trampled playing field.  The negative expectation seeps into the pours of our societal understanding of youth.

For example, USA Today posted the headline, “Sex Study: More Teens Young Adults Are Virgins”.  In my line of work this is jubilant news and has actually been a youth trend, so I checked it out.

After reading the article with satisfaction, the 232 comments caught my attention.  I read every one.   It was not good for my blood pressure.

I counted three affirmative remarks.  Most of the comments were sarcastic.  They accused the youth of lying or implied something detrimental about young adults and their character.  You would have thought the discussion was about dogs in heat.

Unfortunately this has become the norm for the American culture and their expectations.  If I had one dollar for every adult who tells me, “Kids are going to do it anyway,” I would be looking down on Bill Gates economically speaking.

I believe these expectations are the root of a large number of problems.  They are basically like the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany in World War II.

The propaganda professional Joseph Goebbels proposed, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”  Of course, he was reflecting his commander, Adolph Hitler who said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

I don’t believe the lie.  I believe youth want to and can do what is right.  Unfortunately they live in a culture where adults believe otherwise and expect their failure.  For many of these adults their own past failures dictate their expectation for youth.  The past failures of these adults do not dictate the future of youth.

As a result, I will make every effort to believe the best for our youth while standing up to the adults who continue to drone on with their message of failure.

Recently I was in a local book store.  The young lady serving me nonchalantly commented, “Thank You.”  I asked, “For what?”  She said, “Aren’t you Mr. Eades.”  While I secured my identity with a nod, she finished, “You saved me from a great deal of drama and I am really enjoying it.”

With a little encouragement she made a decision while in Middle School to avoid the emotions, drama, pain, scares, unplanned pregnancy, disease, guilt and shame associated with our cultural norm of sexual freedom.  This College Student found that true sexual freedom is found in purity.

My running into her is not an anomaly.  Youth want to do what is right.  They want better than the outcomes of the sexual revolution.  When will adults believe and encourage the best in them?

What do you think about the negative expectation for our youth?

Where are your expectations for our youth?

Forbidden Words

“Please, forgive me.”  What makes those three of the hardest words in the English language to put together and say?

When it comes to marriage, children, work, or just any old relationships those words don’t come easy.  Do I dare type that it almost seems impossible sometimes to let those words sneak through the lips.

I think I know a reason.  At least I know for me.  When I have to say, “Please forgive me,” I have to admit I am wrong.  There I typed it.

It is hard to say because it is difficult to admit an error.  There is no fun in being wrong.  Embarrassment lives in the neighborhood of being wrong.

When you are the dad you aren’t supposed to be wrong.  When you are the boss doesn’t it show weakness in your leadership if you are wrong?  I can’t think of many instances where I like to be on this end of forgiveness.  Even when I bold face know I am wrong.

The only problem with not gathering the courage to know and admit I am wrong is the aftermath.  Yes, the problem with not going there is the damage to just about every relationship.  In the Right to Ruin, I  refer to  this tendency to destroy while grabbing your right to be right.

I admitted to my friend Beaver Brooks a failure with my son.  I knew I must ask to be forgiven.  Beaver replied, “Now you get to teach him what it means to be a man.”  He was referring to my obligation as a man, a Christian, and father to do what is right.  To ask my son to forgive me for my relational error.

Of course, Beaver was right.  Asking for forgiveness gives the opportunity to repair relational tears.  It shouldn’t be a surprise, but I have seen more benefit from those three words than negative outcomes.

It is not a guarantee of restoration, but I have never seen skipping “the ask”restore relational breaches.

How are you at uttering those words, “Please forgive me”?

How has asking to be forgiving benefited your relationships?

A Speaking Start That Hit The Floor

On occasion, I am asked about the start of my public speaking.  It was long ago. I have to give a bit of background to set the stage.

I am originally from Southern Illinois.  While heading to second grade, my parents moved me to the deep south, Brunswick, Georgia.  Upon moving, I found out quickly from the natives that I was a Yankee Carpet Bagger.  Heartbroken and disappointed to be the enemy of the South, I wondered how I would ever make new friends in Mrs. Littlefield’s second grade class.

In my second grade brain, I figured out how to bridge the War of Northern Aggression Gap.  Mrs. Littlefield set up Show and Tell sessions for the last of the day.  I knew this, my first public speaking event, was my avenue to acceptance and new appreciation with my Rebel classmates.

Unfortunately, a combination of embarrassment to ask a new teacher and the excitement of this once in a lifetime opportunity put me in the position where I should have gone to the restroom.  I did not.

Well you probably guessed it.  Moments into my first motivational speech, it was interrupted by bodily fluid easing down and warming my leg while wetting my uniform pants.

Mrs. Littlefield responded in horror, as my face reflected that look of relief that is often found on a male face when standing in front of a urinal. Sorry girls you just wouldn’t know about this.

As the class erupted in laughter, Mrs. Littlefield, whisked me away to the restroom and then to the office.  Although wet and humiliated I sat patiently in the office as the staff, to no avail, attempted to reach my parents.  Long before the era of the cell phone, they were forced to load me on the bus for my ride to public humiliation, oh, and home.

Of course, my interrupted oration had already become the talk of the school.  To find me tenderly seated in the front of the bus made for a lively personal catastrophe.   Not only did the entire second grade know and communicate my unlikable position, but now every student on bus four joined in the party of torment.

I made it home, and I don’t remember even telling my parents what happened.  Fortunately with a public speaking start like that it could only get better.  For the most part it has.  I guess the resilience of youth paved the way for a brighter and more comfortable oratory future.

When was your first public speaking event?

What was it like?

Have you ever had quite so special a moment?

Right to Ruin

In my work I see many broken relationships.  Sometimes severed relationships are a result of being right.

I sat in front of a father who was upset about his son’s decisions to do things of which he disapproved.  Sometimes parents, in these cases, have the right to be upset.

Many times it is their insistence on being right that perpetuates the conflict.  Either way, their desire to be right usually has a consistent outcome: damaging or losing the relationship.

As a result of this trend, I often communicate with hurting family members that they have a choice.  They can be absolutely right and lose their relationship, or they can surrender their right to be right and have the ability to speak into the relationship.

Regrettably, I have seen people choose being right over the hope of keeping the relationship.  It is their right to ruin.  Relinquishing their claim to be right could have made all the difference.

Amazingly they choose to lose their relationship.  Feet are dug in the ground on their hill to die.  Their opponent in the relational stand off firmly digs their feet in the ground for their position.  The war is on.  Relationships are about to suffer.

The father I mentioned fought me on this concept.  He just knew he was right and thought giving up his deeply entrenched position was an ungodly compromise.  It is amazing to see this happen.  In the midst of knowing they might mortally wound a relationship, they often will choose being right and consequently lose any opportunity for change or influence in the child’s life.

Often I make the point that the current method is not working and has only led to strife.  Maybe a different plan should be given a shot.   This father decided to risk it for one week to see what would happen.  He laid down his right to be right.  He came out of his foxhole.  If it were a gun fight he would have laid down his weapon.

Much to his surprise, once he laid down his right to be right, his son did the same. After several visits together, they were respectfully talking together.   They didn’t disregard their difference but are now talking them through.  This pair is even looking for solutions together.

The father is now speaking into the son’s life, not demanding his rightness.  His right to ruin has been transformed into the reward of a restored relationship.

In my own relationships, I have had this challenge come up.   Shamefully I can point to places over the years where I was right and allowed it to ruin a relationship.  Even after discovering it and asking for forgiveness there has still been some raw wounds left behind.  I hope I am in a place in my life where I will surrender my right to be right and instead of ruin choose to restore.

Have you ever observed this phenomenon in relationships?

How have you dealt with seemingly irreconcilable conflict?

Have you ever experienced the blessing of relinquishing your right to be right?