About a month ago, both of my youngest children received similar recognition from their school. My wife and I were informed by letters that came to us. Like any parent, when the letter arrives “To the parents of…” and the school letterhead is on it (and it’s not in a season you expecting correspondence) you feel a twinge of fear/anxiety. Once we read the letters and saw they were good news, I decided to transfer that trepidation onto the kids.
Gruffly, I called the littlest ones off the trampoline and to meet me and Charity “on the couch.” (A phrase reserved for our “more intense conversations.”) Once they were seated I proceeded to ask the kids why we had received letter from their school, sounded frustrated the whole time. Part of me thought, Hey one of them probably has done something you haven’t known about. Now’s your chance to manipulate a confession! The rest of me thought, I’m not really sure how to tell them how I feel.
Just a couple days later, I’m working in my dad’s shop. I finished one project and it wasn’t quite lunch time yet. Instead of giving me my next task, my dad told me we needed to chat. I gathered some chairs and sat down…wondering what I had done wrong. Playing me in the same way I had my kids, he let me fret a little. He asked me, “How do you think your ministry is going?” I slowly, cautiously slid into articulating that I was comfortable with ministry. It wasn’t perfect, but a lot of grace is visible. As he pushed back from his desk he stated, “Me too.” He then proceeded to tell me the ways he’s been blessed and how he has enjoyed life at Greenville Grace. And as he wrapped up his compliments (with a few “don’t let this go to your head kid” warnings), he stated, “I know I didn’t say this growing up…But I’m proud of you.”
You see, growing up, my dad never told me he was proud of me. I don’t say that to elicit pity. First, I don’t know of a man who has a better relationship with his father. I have always known I was loved by him (he says/said that all the time) and have always felt supported. I don’t say that because there is a void in my soul as I seek the approval of my earthly father. I know I have it. Second, he told me growing up why he never said he was proud. Pride is a sin. At least that’s one definition of pride.
But a more detailed definition says: feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated. To say you are proud of someone else in no way means you take some form of credit for their achievement. It simply says you are pleased with what they have achieved.
Lately, I’ve become convicted that I do not see the evidence of God’s grace as often as I should, and I express gratitude for that grace even less frequently. I want to enjoy and rest in His grace more. Personal pride blinds us to God’s grace. But being proud of those whom God has put around you, I think that can magnify God’s grace!
By God’s grace, I’m growing more comfortable telling people I’m proud of them…I may even quit making them think they’re in trouble when I do it!