I had the privilege of joining a group of men in a nearby city for Godly fellowship and fitness recently. I don’t think I’ve written on Gibborim or SOULCON here, so if you’re a man and you don’t know about them I highly recommend clicking on those hyperlinks and checking them out.
Basically, this gathering was a way to kick off Soulcon Challenge Eleazar, which began yesterday. Again, if you’re a man and you don’t know what that is, check it out. Anyway, we were able to talk about the struggles we were facing in our families and in our individual walks with Christ, drink coffee, and ended by running a 5K. It was pretty awesome. I’m bringing this up because one of the men there shared a story which was comical in the moment, but just wouldn’t leave me after hearing it.
The story was that he had gone on a float trip with some friends several years prior. Apparently one of the men had said they knew how to canoe and the man telling the story trusted that he actually knew what he was doing. Basically the man I was talking with got angry after repeatedly flipping, especially when he tried to give the other guy, who was at the front of the canoe, good instructions but was ignored.
I’d be frustrated too. Turns out that what should have been a several hour long float trip ended up taking two days. The men had to sleep on the bank of the river, having lost one canoe after dark. They were able to retrieve it the next morning, but I imagine that it was probably quite stressful. He told the story much better than I have, and with a lot more laughter.
After that I just couldn’t get that story out of my mind. It made me realize something, like a gut punch. I realized I’ve been that guy who promised he knew how to canoe only to flip the canoe and ignore help repeatedly. I see myself at the front of that canoe, my family behind me. I’m leading the way, dammit, and I know what I’m doing.
Honestly, if I knew what I was doing, would the boat flip? Maybe, sometimes, due to circumstances outside my control… But I should be ready for that and capable of reacting in a way that will bring my family and myself to safety. I should never flip the canoe out of incompetence. Yet that’s what I feel like I’ve done so often it’s ridiculous. The most difficult part about it was the pride issue.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Pride is a weakness of mine, as it is for many people (especially men I think). Have I capsized my boat due to pride? No, but I’ve sure flipped it a few times. I’ve gotten lost and taken the wrong fork in the river. I’ve struggled to keep my head above water as I try to swim my family to shore after making stupid decisions. I’ve ignored sound counsel in favor of “my way”. I’ve said that I knew what I was doing when I didn’t have a clue. I’ve let my pride cause me to fall more times than I can count.
And all the while my beautiful, loving wife has been trying to help. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” I believe that God made my wife and I for each other. I cannot fathom how anyone else on this spinning rock could love or understand me the way she does, and yet I am a really bad listener. I get it in my head that it’s my duty to lead and that causes me to exclude her good advice far too often. God designed marriage to be done together, not just by the man.
I still believe it is my God given privilege and duty to lead my family well, but there’s that little pride thing again. No leader should do it his way simply because he thought of it. Good counsel should always be accepted, and followed if it is the best course of action.
I think I’m learning that pride is a much bigger issue than I once thought. And I’m also realizing that I don’t need it. Sure, I can be proud of my accomplishments, and I’m not saying I’m not, but I also know that anything I’ve ever done of note has only been accomplished through the grace of my God in my life. If it wasn’t something He wanted for me, I wouldn’t have accomplished it.
So I’m trying to keep pride out of the decision making process. And that’s the lesson, here. Don’t be the guy who says he knows what he’s doing when he doesn’t. Can I lead my family down the river safely? That depends on the river, the boat, the weather, etc. It depends on a lot more than just how well I think I can canoe. Pride should never overtake the responsibility to prepare well in every situation. If I can’t do it, I’m not going to let pride make me say that I can and end up putting my family in any kind of danger. Whether it’s an actual canoe trip, or anything else, it remains the same.
Keep your pride out of it, take good advice, and make good decisions.
Until next time,