Pride can come before a success — and mean more

May 12, 2018

SURELY the favourite sentence of any child remains: “I am so proud of you!”

Those six little words run deep, building a healthy formation.

In a culture where bullying causes ever-increasing carnage this really does matter.

Usually parents express this sort of pride when their child reflects behaviours that are pleasing, desired, or maybe even expected.

Perhaps the child produced good table manners, an improved school report or (dare I say it?) cleaned their room without prompting.

Such progress could trigger parental affirmation, based on the observable good behaviour.

Reflect on this following scenario: A father and son are on their way home from the football game, where the son kicked four goals.

The father feels immense pride at his son’s performance and the son feels honoured when his father expresses this, after the game.

Undoubtedly this exchange builds confidence.

But some parents might like to take this to another level, and there is one.

It’s bringing praise – before the game – daring to speak forth affirmation before a ball is bounced.

This practice builds something profound, in disconnecting the parental pride from the actual performance.

Praise can be given on the front end.

It’s the father who offers generous affirmation, yes, even before the game starts.

It goes like this: “Son, let me say in advance, I know you’ll do your best at the game, and that’s always good enough for me.

“So just know I’m proud of you, no matter how everything turns out today.”

Here’s the ironic aspect of this scenario: a child receiving unprovoked praise like this wants to burst out of the blocks and play the game of their life, not to get the father’s approval, but because it’s been gifted.

All these sentiments aren’t drawn from modern psychology; they’re actually a 2000-year-old strategy.

It’s how the Heavenly Father treated Christ the Son in His time on earth.

At the baptism of Jesus a voice came from heaven: “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3).

The fascinating thing about this generous exchange, the words came before Jesus did anything, or fulfilled any of His life mission.

His ‘game’ hadn’t even started.

Suddenly it dawns on me the idea I approach God after getting my life in order is flawed.

It’s totally the other way around.

Apparently, I can only ever get my game together by starting with undeserved grace.

Goodness isn’t the way to God; God is the way to goodness.

Jonathon Schroder

New Life Baptist Church.

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