I’ve been composing a post in my head for days, but I am just now at a point where I can put it to paper. I intentionally got up a little early so that I’d have some time with my thoughts. I thought to write another “Our World This Week” post, but the week went into a blur because of our son’s first dance competition—yes, it’s already that season again. All week I spent hemming this, tacking that, and working to get all of my “big kid” grades out early so that we could enjoy Friday and Saturday without having to come home to late nights on the computer. And when I say Friday, I mean all of Friday (including the 1-hour drive to the venue, feeding everyone on the opposite end of town, dancing and then waiting for awards), and ½ of Saturday. I enjoy watching the kids express themselves in this way, but competitive dancing really does become an all-consuming task. Thank God my son wasn’t a high schooler; their competitions were on Sunday! I think it’s safe to say we were amongst the Babylonians.
Our son received a “high gold” honor for his performance, and then a trophy for beating out the other challengers in his age and dance style. I thought this was an incredible feat, given that it was his first time performing solo. To put this in perspective, it was the highest honor any one of the individuals/teams that came from our dance center received. We were all so pleased and proud, and he was, too. Yet, later my praise was put on halt as I sensed another spirit creeping in ever so cleverly: arrogance. I reminded him that above the “high gold” honor is a platinum honor, and then a best overall score; neither of these were bestowed upon him this round. I didn’t say this to squelch his enthusiasm, but I wanted to be sure that he continued to work hard and didn’t allow pride to actually harm his abilities.
Our whole dialogue led me to think about the danger of arrogance. Paul encourages us to ‘not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you’ (Rom. 12:3). Peter even tells us that ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (I Pet. 4:5). One of the goals I’ve always had for our school is to instill self confidence in our children about who they are and whose they are. As an aside, I think this is of critical importance for our African-American boys, whom society at large will instantly judge negatively, as if the mere fact of his skin color gives him criminal tendencies and limits his thinking ability. I absolutely hate when people find out that he dances and immediately ask him a question along the order of, “Oh, do you know all those hip-hop moves?” It bothers me that he’s not given the benefit of the doubt that he’s proficient at a different style. I am convinced that if he were not black, those same inquiring minds would ask him the more appropriate question of what type of dance he performs. Instead of rushing in with the attitude that mirrors what I’m thinking, I let him respond—another goal is speaking up for oneself. In his quiet and respectful manner, he states very matter-of-factly, “No, I do ballet, tap, and jazz.” I want to add, “and he’s also a grade ahead of himself in school,” but I’m sure I’d come off as insecure.
Anyway, I digress. My point is that in our home, we teach God-confidence and self confidence. Yet, we also strive to teach achievement with an eye on the Saviour. Our God, in His wisdom, thought enough of us to caution us about forgetting Him, and when the world sheds it accolades upon us, it is so easy to get caught up in our own strengths. Our spirits become unteachable, and a child with an unteachable spirit is as dangerous to himself as he is to others. Without some level of humility, he becomes the employee who balks at every bit of constructive criticism and who has a problem at every review (and maybe even a problem holding a job). Sadly enough, he might even become a pastor who, now with ultimate power and authority, leads a church according to his inabilities rather than relying on God abilities. It is not in our strength, but in our weakness that He is made strong. Why must the Lord take us through trials in life? Perhaps because we’d never stay close to Him without them.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…(Romans 5:3-4)
I know that, personally, I’m far more intense in my prayer life when all is not well. Sitting in the auditorium late on Friday night, I wanted so badly to see our son take a “Best Overall.” Like any proud parent, I wanted everyone else to see what I’ve seen in him for all of his ten years. Yet, some reflection has led me to believe that it’s better this way. Peaking too early might have been his downfall. I saw a recent article on Zac Efron (if you have kids who are into the High School Musical thing, you’d immediately recognize the name as the lead character, ‘Troy,’ in the movies), who is at this point in his career nothing short of a teenage heartthrob, with all the trimmings. Countless articles speak of him as “young, rich, and famous,” but I find it sad that this young man has turned his back on his Jewish heritage and prides himself on being agnostic. As long as success follows him, he’ll not need to rethink this decision; neither will a young athlete who becomes a millionaire at 23 and lifts up his abilities as the secret to his success. Too often, it’s Mom and Grandmom, who’ve seen their share of hard times, who know how to call on the name of Jesus. As for me and my house, I want our children to be at a place where they can constantly deflect attention away from themselves and lift up their Creator. May our son be a mighty man, but may he also be a reflection of the Christ that is in him.