Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unpleasant Boasting

Day 7 of the Taming the Tongue book deals with the Boasting Tongue.

When we are small, boasting is a way of making us feel bigger. The classic playground claim, "my dad is bigger than your dad" gives way to boasting about our own accomplishments and achievements. Somewhere along the line as an adult we come full circle and become less inclined to boast about our own successes and shift to boasting about accomplishments of those close to us once more.

For those of us with children this becomes a huge struggle to control. A man I know tells a story about when he was a child that he received some kind of award or something in school. Because his mother was a typical mom, she told everyone she knew about it. They lived in a small expatriate community overseas and it seemed that everyone he knew had heard about the award from his mom. He vowed to never tell her anything like that again. When his parents showed up to celebrate his college graduation years later they had no idea, until he received it, that he was the recipient of a BIG DEAL award, because he had kept his vow.

As a mom, I can understand how his mother felt and why she told everyone about her son. We want to share our joy in our children's accomplishments. Yet, here in Northern Virginia where education is one of our gods, the push to make children into high achievers is relentless. I wonder whether we are sharing joy in our children's accomplishments or showing what great parents we are? Are we taking credit for what God has gifted our children with?

I struggle sometimes with this admonishment to not engage in such behavior. Fortunately, two of my friends at our Bible Study Leaders Group have modeled God's admonishment for me.  They both have incredibly gifted children.  One child swam in the summer Olympics last year. The other scored so high on standardized tests as a small child that the likes of MIT and Rensselaer pursued him from a very early age. Both of these mothers have mastered the ability to share what's going on in these kids' lives only when asked. They both model grace and humility and an understanding that although their children have worked very hard with what God gave them, God did give them the talents. Good genetics and encouraging backgrounds enhance, but the meat of it comes from God. They've also shared how that level of gift can create difficulties as well.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
 1 Corinthian 1:31

This is what the LORD says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, Jeremiah 9:23


Jillien said...

2 Cor 12: 5-10 (NIV)

I completely agree. Sometimes we get caught up in our achievements, when it was truly through the grace of God that we made it there to begin with. The Lord brings blessings to us so they can work through us. The Lord blesses those with wealth, so they may serve the poor. The Lord blesses those with strength, so they may carry the weak....

This is a great post, and something I must always be reminded of. Thank you for sharing.


Anonymous said...

I for one say if you got it flaunt it. I see nothing wrong with boasting high and loud about loved ones, especially your children. Granted I'm not saying to put an ad in the newspaper or on TV but if I had kids I'd let all know and be proud of it. Yeah it might make me look like an idiot and a braggart but I could care less. They are my kids and I'm gonna do my utmost to know what wonderful kids they are.

On the other hand, let's say they are bully's and no hoodlums. I'd do everything I could to stop the behavior but I don't think I would boast about it. Double standard I think. Maybe I should rethink my boasting. There again, maybe it's a good thing I don't have kids.

SouthLakesMom said...

Thank you Jillien! Your comments are very kind.

Thom - the process you just went through is exactly what I've gone through! When I spend time with people whose kids ARE acting like bums and worse, I wonder how they must feel when people are boasting about their own GREAT kids...that also tempers my tongue!

quilly said...

I was such a boaster when I was young that I practically had no friends. Not so much now, but sometimes I do find myself boasting for Amoeba. Part of me knows that really won't help with my goal of convincing people he's wonderful, but still I persist!

SouthLakesMom said...

I think when we are complimenting the strengths, accomplishments of someone we love, that's loving them publicly.

Where we should draw the line is when the motivation is reflected glory or taking credit for the success ourselves or worst case scenario - using it to minimize someone else's success. That's what I see so much around here.
A: My kid won a reading award!
B: My kid won that award last year. This year he won the higher one.

It's not usually that blatant, but it's there...and I try to NOT engage!