Archive for the ‘Pride’ Category

God and Disney World: Not Even a Thank You

Posted: June 24, 2011 by clairer in Creativity, Pride

Disney’s park Epcot is, in many ways, a celebration of the achievements of mankind. In one area of the park, Future World, there are attractions that show cutting-edge scientific discoveries to improve agriculture. There is a 4D movie theater in which you can soar over wonders of the world, feeling like you’re actually there. There is a ride that claims to be the “longest, fastest attraction in Disney history!” And Future World’s most prominent feature Spaceship Earth: a ride that drives you through a world of animatronics documenting the rise and progression of communication throughout history.

While these things were fascinating and fun to see, there was a distinct feeling that something was missing in all of these displays and shows. Disney, like much of American society, was celebrating all these achievements — these gifts from God — without acknowledgement of the Giver. In fact, many times it celebrated these things while blatantly denying the Creator.

For example, Spaceship Earth’s “History of Communication” display was a really interesting survey of history…except that the starting point was a less-than evolved civilization that lived in caves and spoke through grunts to one another. Not only is this a complete denial of the intelligence and dignity that God gave each human from the beginning of the world, but the display also completely rejects the role that God had in creating the world. As if that’s not enough, the narrator on the ride goes on to talk about the advances in technology and communication as if we, mankind, did it entirely on our own through our innate intelligence. We invented the alphabet. We discovered paper. We invented the printing press. And we “sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before.”

True, from a human perspective, “we” did all this. The Phoenicians invented the alphabet, the Egyptians discovered papyrus, and Gutenberg manufactured the first printing press. However, from a Christian perspective, we’re aware that God was behind all of these discoveries and inventions. God was the one who created humans “in His image,” with the intellect and reasoning ability to create and explore. God was the one who created the rules language…and the one who confused man’s language at the Tower of Babel. God was the creator of papyrus, of the wood and metal that the printing press was made from, and the materials we use today to communicate with one another. God was the one who inspired the minds of those who created these means of communication.

And yet, when we’re celebrating that gift — the technological advances of mankind — how do we thank the Giver? How do we show our thankfulness to the one who created and inspired us? We ignore him. Worse, we deny His existence and take credit for these advances ourselves.

I don’t think Disney is the only culprit here. Too often, I take the gift and forget to acknowledge the Giver. How often have I been praised for my talents, giftings, and abilities and merely accepted those compliments without giving credit to God or without Him even entering my thoughts? How often do I wake up in the morning and go about my day without pausing to thank God for the everyday blessings — breath, food, shelter, family, freedom, and education — that He has provided for me? How often do I pray for something and then forget to return to thank God for the answer to prayer (much like nine of the ten leapers that Jesus healed)?

Christians, in particular, should be the most thankful people on earth. Not only does God provide for all our needs, but he has also solved our greatest problem — He saved us from our sins and gave us eternal life with Him. Do we stop each day and thank Him for that? Or is the gospel something we take for granted?

Our thankfulness and acknowledgement of God doesn’t have to be cumbersome or flashy. It should be an attitude that we adopt. Living thankfully doesn’t mean that every time someone compliments us, we say, “Oh, you should thank God; it’s not me.” But that should be the attitude in our hearts whenever someone praises us. We should view praise and compliments as a reflection on God’s creativity and strength, not our abilities achieved through our hard work. Instead of pridefully allowing such compliments to make us feel good, we should use those occasions to humbly (and often, quietly) thank God for the gifts he has given us.

Living in this manner not only glorifies God (because it acknowledges His power and His creativity over our own), but it also gives us joy in our lives. If we view each blessing (even everyday ones) as an undeserved gift from God, our day is full of joyful celebrations. If we’re focused on thanking God for the blessings that God has given us, our minds will be too occupied by these gifts to think about the things we’re not content with. It transforms our complaining hearts to gratified hearts.

So, as you go through your day, try to take time to notice the gifts that God has surrounded you with and take a moment to just pause and thank Him. If you can take time to write a thank you note to someone who gives you a gift for your birthday, can’t you take just a moment to thank the God who gives you life?

Perfection Confusion

Posted: April 10, 2011 by clairer in Perfection, Pride

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.”

I would be the first to admit that perfection is unattainable. No matter how many hours I study, there will be days when I do not score 100%. However well-intentioned I am, I will not always give the best advice to my friends. Although I spend daily time with God, I consistently fall short of the passion He deserves. No, I know that the high bar of perfection is unreachable…but I still try.

It’s easy to justify this drive for perfection. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars,” we are told. By trying to be perfect, I’m simply ensuring that I’m doing my best…right?

But are we called to pursue perfection… or excellence? While we are told in God’s word to “be holy because I am holy” we are also told that all have “fallen short.” While we were originally called to this perfection, the minute we sin, we lose all chance of being perfect. It’s like a GPA. The moment you get anything lower than an A in one class, you lose the ability to get a 4.0 no matter how many more A’s you achieve in the rest of your schooling. But, there is hope.

As Christians we are called to excellence, not perfection. The Bible says that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.” Thus, if we are supposed to be doing everything for God, we should be doing everything with excellence or to the best of our ability.

But how does striving for excellence and striving for perfection differ? If you’re striving for perfection, aren’t you striving for the highest level of excellence? I think there are two things that differentiate the pursuit of perfection from the desire for excellence: the motivation and the response.

What is the motivation behind perfectionism? Pride.  The fact that we feel the drive to be perfect means that we think we can be perfect. We become motivated by end results (perfection) and not the process. We are saying that as long as we try our hardest, perfection is the only acceptable result for us. That’s a prideful motivation.

Perfectionism is also selfishly motivated. We are doing things to glorify ourselves rather than doing our best to use the gifts God has given us to glorify Him.

On the other hand, when we are striving for excellence, we are doing so with a desire to glorify God. Since God is our Creator, doing things well automatically reflects upon His excellence, omnipotence, and goodness. Using our gifts and talents points others to Him.

Our reaction to the result is also different depending on our goal. If we are always striving for perfection, then any result other than a perfect one will be unacceptable. We may have done our best and still have fallen short. Perfectionism is full of disappointment. Striving for excellence allows us to  be satisfied – and trust God — with the results. Excellence enables us to be content knowing we did the best that we could, and it permits us to learn from our mistakes. It’s been said, “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” Our imperfections teach us. When we acknowledge our inability to be perfect, we are freeing ourselves to learn the lessons we are meant to learn.

It takes humility to let go of our perfectionism. It requires us to admit that we cannot be perfect and it reorients praise from self to God. As Christians, we must acknowledge our call to excellence and pursue it– not perfection– for God’s glory.

The True Me?

Posted: January 6, 2010 by clairer in Pride, Truth

I was bored one summer afternoon, so I grabbed my laptop, opened my browser, and checked my Facebook account.  My newsfeed was littered with results from my friends taking yet another Facebook quiz.  Usually, I ignored these (as the results tended to not mean anything significant), but this one intrigued me: “What famous literary character are you?”  As an avid reader and fan of literature, how could I resist taking this one quiz?

I briefly answered the eleven “what-would-you-do-if-this-happened” questions and viewed my result.  Apparently, I was most like Jane Eyre – someone who struggles between her mind and heart’s desires, an eccentric, quiet and thoughtful, smart, romantic, and forgiving person.  I quickly dismissed the results.  True, some of the qualities might be similar (of course I am forgiving, smart, and thoughtful), but me be Jane Eyre? Jane Eyre is extremely plain, someone nobody wanted, and was deceived by the man she loved.

I much preferred to think of myself as a Lizzie Bennet – someone who was smart, witty, pretty, and unafraid to speak her mind.  Of course she had her faults, but in light of all of her good qualities, they weren’t that significant.

However, why was it that I was so quick to reject the result that I didn’t like?  No doubt if Elizabeth Bennet had been my result, I would have been quick to publish it to my newsfeed and paste it on my profile.  Perhaps it wasn’t so much that the result was wrong, but that I viewed myself incorrectly.

One of the areas that has been central to my maturing process has been seeing myself as I am and not how I imagine myself to be.  As a strong-willed, imaginative perfectionist, it is easy for me to see myself as I would like to – a perfect, smart, beautiful prodigy with a mixed-in Mother Theresa personality.  Learning to see the truth has been a process for me that will continue throughout my life.

When I was little, my stuffed animals talked to me.  I knew that it was really my mom talking through them, but they always seemed so alive because their personalities were so realistic.  Looking back, I can understand how my mom developed and understood these personalities so completely – their personalities were perfect replicas of my own!  My favorite stuffed animal was a lamb, originally and creatively named “Lamby.”  She was strong willed, sometimes irascible, and a perfectionist.  There would be times that I would argue with her and ask her why she couldn’t just be like my brother’s stuffed bear (who had an extremely sweet, caring personality and an adorable little laugh), to which she would reply, “Because you aren’t.”  This puzzled me somewhat because I thought I was a lot more like my brother’s bear than my demanding lamb.

However, as I matured, I began to be able to see and acknowledge my true self, both good qualities and flaws.   I was more selfish than I wanted to be, less considerate than I could be, and more stubborn than I should be.  While I didn’t and still don’t like to admit where I fall short of who I want to be, acknowledging who I am was the first step for me to work toward becoming who I can be.  There are some things that I won’t be able to change about myself, like my appearance or my naturally strong personality, but there are other aspects that I am able to change now that I see a bit more clearly who I truly am.  I can practice more patience, work on being more considerate of others, and learn to channel my strong will so that it is used effectively to serve others and not selfishly.

I think that it can be a temptation for all of us to see ourselves in the way that we want to.  However, it is important for us to have an accurate picture of who we are.  Without truly seeing who we are, we’re blinded to the areas where we need to grow and, without this growth, we are unable to become the people that God wants us to become.  While it takes humility to look in the mirror and see the areas where we need to grow, God reminds us that we aren’t alone in this task, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

In all humility (*cough*)…I still didn’t think that I was a Jane Eyre, so I went back to take the quiz one more time.  Jay Gatsby?  No way!