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Teaching your Kids Humility: Pride Comes Just before the Fall

Pride doesn't just make us ugly and unappreciative. It can literally get in the way of accomplishing our goals. Jayson Zoller learned that at the young age of 10.

Jayson had been a member of his church choir for as long as he can remember. But in the 4th grade, he got his first big solo opportunity in a major production the church had planned. Not just a single solo line or phrase, mind you. He was asked to sing an entire song, solo! It would be very challenging, and he was incredibly excited about it. For the rest of the show, his only role would be to sing along with the rest of the choir in the group performances, with the slight exception of a single solo line he had in the second-to-last song. All of that would be a piece of cake.

So, He practiced for weeks up to the big performance. When it came time for his big solo – he nailed it! He remembers, "It was the best I'd ever performed it. I remembered all the words and hit all the tough notes." When he finished, the crowd stood and applauded. "I was beaming! So happy, and so proud."

He told me, "The show went on, and eventually we came to the second-to-last song, to my one-line solo. I started to sing it, but I got tongue-tied, and I sang the wrong words. But rather than just muddling through it, for some reason, I stopped singing and just blurted out, 'Blah!'"

The crowd couldn't contain themselves. They erupted in hysterical laughter. It was so disruptive the pianist stopped playing, and the entire show came to a screeching halt. "It was humiliating."

In looking back on his thoughts at the time, he said, "I couldn't believe that in a matter of minutes, I went from feeling unconquerable and on top of the world to be the cause of this disaster. And it was all over that simple one-liner."

Jayson had been so proud of his big solo performance he couldn't stop thinking about it. And it's hard to think about your next performance when you're still reliving the last one. He realized that being proud of your accomplishments is fine. But when that pride becomes so consuming that it's distracting you from your next task, you know you've let it go too far.

And that's a lesson that will probably be more compelling to kids than just telling them being prideful isn't a very nice character trait. Explaining how it can actually result in them suffering an embarrassing failure is more likely to make an impression.

So, when you think it's time to have this conversation with your child, share this story, and then have a discussion about it. Here are some questions to get you started.

  1. How do you think Jayson felt getting the standing ovation after his solo song? How do you think he felt after blowing the one-liner?

  2. If Jayson hadn't been so proud of his solo song, do you think he would have done better with his one-liner?

  3. When would have been a better time for Jayson to be proud of and relive the moment of his standing ovation?

  4. What are some times its appropriate to be proud?

Okay, in the next lesson, we'll talk about how bragging about yourself comes across to other people.

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Written by

Paul Andrew Smith