Dr. Kenneth Wuest, who taught Greek, was my favorite college professor because he always brought something beyond the day’s lesson to the classroom to inspire his students; some insight that could change the day and leave a lasting and enlightening impression. He called these day brighteners “golden nuggets” and authored a book by that title, a copy of which still occupies a prominent place in my library.
In addition to his stimulating nuggets of truth drawn from the Greek New Testament, Dr. Wuest frequently quoted what must have been his favorite sage advice for preventing pride to grow due to too many compliments over our accomplishments: “Send all the bouquets upstairs.”
Joe Gibbs was head coach of the Washington Redskins from 1981 to 1992. During that time, the Redskins won three Super Bowls, played in three NFC Championships, won four division titles and made six play-off appearances. In the book, “THE GREATEST LESSON I’VE EVER LEARNED,” by Bill and Vonette Bright, Gibbs tells about learning that money, position and power are not important compared to relationships. During one of those winning football seasons he awoke thinking about how important he was. Then his wife reminded him to pick up his socks and bathrobe and started telling about a problem with one of their children.
“Why is she bothering me with this?” Joe thought. “After all, I’m an important guy on the verge of winning the NFC championship.” So he stormed out of the house, slammed the door and left in a huff, but on his way to work this proud coach suddenly realized the price of his pride.
Joe had developed a habit of praying in his car on the way to work and as he talked to the Lord the truth of what he had done grabbed him, prompting, in his words, the following conclusions: “When I leave this earth, I thought, it will not be the football games or the fact that I am the head coach of the Washington Redskins that will count. All of that will wind up in an ashtray some day. But the influence I have on my wife and two children, on those I’ve worked with or helped, and the investments I’ve made in someone else’s life will last forever.”
Upon arriving at work, Joe called home and apologized to his wife. Pride had tripped him up, but humility lifted him up. “I’m sorry for the way I acted,” he said, assuring her of his love for her and their children.
Wise Solomon said pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), adding a man’s pride will bring him low.
Solomon was right.
How can we avoid pride’s pitfalls? By remembering that every gift, talent and ability we have is given to us by the Lord. Whatever we have achieved is the result of His goodness and grace. If we have performed well in any area of life it is because He has made it possible. So when praise and recognition come our way because of what others see as our accomplishments, it’s time to send all the bouquets upstairs.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.