Love is Humility (4 of 14) | Devotions with Dad

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Love is Humility (4 of 14)

For DAD Only:

Confidence vs. Conceit

My mom read us kids the stories of Laura Ingles Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Laura tells about harvesting the family pig. In the frontier lifestyle, they had to make use of everything. I can still vividly picture the time they took the pig’s bladder, inflated it (I don’t want to know how), and tied the end. This became the kid’s kickball. Eventually it popped and had to be discarded.

People fall into two character groups, in my opinion. The desirable group includes meaty ones: roasts, honey hams, pork steaks, and the like. Pig bladders comprise the second group.

Meaty people. They have something you can sink your teeth into. They are your church prayer warriors and soul-winners. They are the men who stay at the same job for forty years. They are usually older, or at least more mature than their peers, and have put effort into becoming what they are. They are the people we go to with questions and problems. We’ve discovered that they don’t exist as decorations in society. They make society.

Meaty people have practical wisdom. They are like the woman on the airplane next to the child psychologist who, with the intent of volunteering his services, asked how many children she had. She replied, “I’ve got twelve kids. So if there is anything you need to know, feel free to ask.” The meaty person is a confident person. He knows that he knows. Intimidation doesn’t scare him. Boasting doesn’t impress him. And flash-in-the-pan people don’t turn his head. He’s the worker that doesn’t need a title or a corner office. Yet everyone, including the CEO, comes to him for advice.

You want meaty kids. You don’t want them to be like the next option.

Pig bladders. They crowd our world today. They are comparatively worthless. They have thin skin. They’re full of air. They brag about things they have never experienced and inflate small events into big stories. They claim expertise in areas where they should never be trusted. Their deepest moment of reality is when they gripe about politics, whine about the weather, or brag about a sport team they could never qualify to be a waterboy for. Surely, you’ve seen through the sham of those who emphasize the image and ignore the important.

The pig bladder man has nothing to him. He is a scrap of society, trying to get the center of attention. And he usually will. Once people find out that he’s just a pig bladder, they will amuse themselves to no end by kicking the life out of him. One pig bladder came onto a job site bragging about what a fighting machine he was. “My hands are registered weapons.” At first the guys believed his tales of daring do until they saw that even apprentice carpenters could outwork him. Then he felt the crunch of everyone’s steel-toed boots: “Hey, tough guy, see if your registered weapons can grab that broom and sweep this floor.”

Yet we dads can help solve the pig-bladder epidemic. Or make it worse. Do I inflate my kids on nothing? Or do I fill them with substance? Let’s look at the options.

Bladder busters. You can air up your child’s ego by complimenting things he or she has no control over. Let’s say that while playing a game with my family, my son rolls double sixes. I can puff him up saying, “Wow! You da’ man! You know how to roll those dice! Wow! You’re good!” He feels good about himself, but there’s nothing to it. He can’t control how the dice falls. Unfortunately, this begins a subtle flaw of character where he begins to think he is intrinsically better than others. In the same way, it’s stupid to pump up my daughter’s arrogance by telling her how beautiful she is. She can’t control that. But most egotistical girls got that way because someone filled them with hot air. They think they have built-in superiority to others.

Okay, here’s a good example of the difference between swelling your child’s vanity and building her self-confidence: buying a dress vs. making one. Aunt Polly buys your daughter a new dress. If you say, “That’s a pretty dress. Wow, you really look good today,” you inflate unhealthy self-awareness: conceit. However, let’s say your daughter made her own dress and it turns out good. When you give her the exact same compliment you reinforce her sewing skills: confidence.

Hi-protein character. Meat is muscle. You build muscle by doing something. If I want meaty kids, I must build up their self-worth by encouraging them in their accomplishments and skill development. They need me to brag on how hard they’ve worked in school. My son doesn’t need reinforcement for making it to the 149th level of Mario Brothers. He needs my encouragement when he sweeps the kitchen without being told. I boost my kids’ confidence by teaching them skills. Music lessons, Bible memorization, carpentry, gardening, and lawn care skills build poise in children.

We create solid children by being solid dads. Don’t patronize your toddler with “Nice picture, Suzie.”  Be real.  Say meaningful things, not just fluff.  When you say “I like how you colored that pink cow and stayed inside the lines,” you build her self-awareness better than just saying what you think she wants to hear. More than telling your five-year-old how sharp he looked in his new suit, tell him how glad you were to see him singing in church and bowing his head during prayer. With your focused effort, your little pork chop will escape the bladder-splatter life of conceit by developing healthy self-confidence.

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Dad, read this story with your kids:

Pride Cometh

Misty’s friend Shoshanna bounced up and down in the backseat of the car. “I can’t wait until we get to the zoo.”

“I’m excited, too,” Misty said. “Have you ever been there before?”

“A long time ago, when I was little.”

“You are going to love it,” Misty said. “They have one building that is full of reptiles.”


“And they have another place that is full of monkeys, baboons, and gorillas.”

“I bet they are funny,” Shoshanna said.

“Yeah, but last time I was there, one big gorilla tried to smash the window.”

“Really? That’s scary.”

Misty shrugged. “I wasn’t scared. I knew that he couldn’t get me, the big dummy.”

Shoshanna’s dad, who was driving the car, announced, “We’ll be there in just a few minutes.”

“Oh goodie!” Shoshanna said.

“I’m wearing my new hair scrunchy to the zoo today,” Misty said.

“I like your hair.”

“Thanks. Mom put it up for me.”

“My mom did mine today, too. She can’t always do it though, because she has to leave early for work.”

“My mom always does my hair,” Misty said. “She stays at home and doesn’t have to leave for work.”

“I like doing my own hair,” Shoshanna said.

“Okay, now,” Shoshanna’s dad said, “You guys are going to be well-behaved in here, right?”

“Yes, Dad,” Shoshanna said.

“Good. We are going to stay together as a group. No running off.”

“Okay,” the girls said.

The car pulled into a parking space. Everyone got out.

“Look,” Misty said, holding up a black zipper case, “my brother let me borrow his camera.”

“You be careful with that,” Shoshanna’s mom said.

“I will.”

Shoshanna, her parents, and Misty went to the entrance, paid, and entered the park. Inside the gate, Misty grabbed Shoshanna’s hand and said, “C’mon, let’s go see the penguins and polar bears!” The two girls charged ahead.

“Girls!” Shoshanna’s mom called. “Remember what we said about staying together?”

“Sorry,” Misty said.

The girls walked slower, ahead of Shoshanna’s parents. “The penguins are my favorite,” Misty said. “They do neat tricks.”

“Cool,” Shoshanna said. “Do they still have enough ice and snow to slide on?”

“Oh yeah,” Misty said. “They keep it cold in there for them.”

“Sounds like you know a lot about the zoo,” Shoshanna’s dad said.

“Oh yeah, we come here a lot.”

“How far is the penguin house?” Shoshanna’s mom asked.

“Right over there. It’s almost all the way across the park.”

“Whew,” Shoshanna said when they got close to the artic building. “That was a long walk.”

They walked up to the doors and Shoshanna’s dad read the sign, “Opens at ten o’clock.”

“That’s not for another hour,” Shoshanna said.

“Oops,” Misty said. “Let’s go see the reptile exhibit.”

Shoshanna’s mom sighed as they started walking again. Soon they were all inside, looking at snakes, lizards, iguanas, and other creatures. After half an hour, Shoshanna said, “I’ve seen enough gross stuff. Isn’t there anything else we can go look at?”

Misty grabbed her hand. “They have a new parrot show. They have some macaws that do tricks.”

“What’s a macaw?”

“You don’t know what a macaw is? It’s a really big parrot. C’mon, you’ll see.”

“Girls, where you running off to?”

“To see the parrot show, Mom. This place gives me the creeps.”

“Okay, but let’s find out when this show starts so we don’t walk a long way for nothing.” Shoshanna’s mom and dad stopped at an information desk. Soon, the whole group was heading to the bird building. They were some of the first people to arrive. The show was to take place inside a small gymnasium with bleacher seats on both walls.

Misty said, “Let’s sit at the top so we can see best.”

“Wow,” Shoshanna said, “I don’t like heights. These steps make me feel like I could fall right through.”

“Oh, come on, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” Misty chided. “See? I’m not scared. I like to climb stuff.”

“You must have better balance than I do.”

“Watch. I can even walk up the seats!” Misty stood on one of the bleacher seats and then stepped up to the next one and the next one. But her foot slipped and went down between two metal braces as she fell between the seats.”

“Misty!” Shoshanna’s father yelled.

“Oh, ow, ow, ow,” Misty whined.

Shoshanna ran up to her. “Are you okay?”

“I think I hurt something. Am I paralyzed?”

Shoshanna’s mom peaked over her shoulder. “No, you’re not paralyzed, girl. Your mouth is still moving.”

“Ow, I’m hurt.”

“Can you stand up?” Shoshanna asked.

“Yeah. I think so.” They helped Misty stand up. She tried to walk and yelled, “Ouch!”

“What is it, girl?”

“My left foot hurts really bad.”

Shoshanna’s dad was talking to a zoo worker who said to have Misty sit down. He called first aid to come over and look at her foot. They carried Misty down to an office where they gave her some bottled water and put her foot up on a chair. The nurse looked closely at Misty’s foot.

“Is it broken?” Misty asked.

“No. I don’t think so. It looks like it will have a bad bruise and might be sprained a little. You need to stay off your foot for a while so you don’t make it worse.”

“Well, we were going to sit down and watch the bird show. Will that be long enough?”

The nurse smiled. “No. I mean you need to stay off it the whole day.”

“The whole day?” Misty flopped her head against the back of the chair. “That won’t be any fun!”

Shoshanna’s dad called Misty’s dad and asked him to come get her. Misty had to sit in the nurse’s office with Shoshanna’s mom while she and her dad watched the parrots. When Misty’s parents arrived, Shoshanna had just come back.

“It was really fun, Misty. You would have liked it.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Misty said. “I’m sorry I was being such a show off.”

“It’s okay. I hope your foot gets better quick.”

“Me, too.”


Now, make sure they were paying attention:

What did Misty do wrong in the car? What did she do wrong when she got to the zoo?

How do you think Shoshanna felt when Misty said her mom didn’t have to work?

Do you think Shoshanna really liked doing her own hair?

No, she was trying to not let Misty make her feel bad.

Do you think Misty realized she was hurting her friend’s feelings?

Last time we learned how it is wrong to envy others. Since envy is a sin, how do you think God feels if we brag and cause others to envy us?

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” How did this prove true in Misty’s experience?

Real Life: Last week, you may have noticed that the child you favored would brag to the others, to make them envy.  Kids like to say things like “I got one and you don’t,” or “I get to go fishing and not you.”  Set up a situation for your child to get caught in that kind of boasting and then take away the privilege as a real life learning lesson.  I know it’s painful to take away the popsicle you just gave him, but Cain’s punishment was much worse.

Read the following scripture with the family:

Before a Fall

At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures— the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory— all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.

Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?”

So Hezekiah said, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.”

And he said, “What have they seen in your house?”

So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

Isaiah 39:1-8 from New King James Version, © 1983 Thomas Nelson. Used with permission.


Let’s discuss it:

What proud thing did Hezekiah do?

Showed off all the things that God had blessed him and his nation with.

Why did he do this?

He probably did it because he wanted to impress the Babylonians who had lots of gold, too.

Why was it wrong?

It was wrong because of his pride.

Why do you think Hezekiah wasn’t worried about what Isaiah said? Was this a kind thing to say?

No, he was still being proud.

What judgment did God pronounce upon King Hezekiah’s house and his family?

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Take some time to color with your youngin’s:

Add Some Color to Your Life

Pring more coloring pages from and select “fit to page” when you print.

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Memory Verse:

I Corinthians 13:4

Charity suffereth long,

and is kind;

charity envieth not;

charity vaunteth not itself,

is not puffed up,

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