Monday, May 13, 2013
Sweet Home Alabama
Last week I stepped foot in the great state of Alabama for the first time in my life. I know very little about Alabama, except that it is home to Alice Johnson. Any state that produces someone like Alice has to be special.
As I crossed the state line, I began to think about all of the states I’ve visited and those I have not. I have never been to Alaska or Hawaii, never set foot in Oregon, Iowa, or Mississippi. Forty-five out of fifty isn’t too shabby.
The town I visited was Dothan. I read that the town took its name right out of the Bible, “Let us go to Dothan” (Genesis 37:17). The largest religious expression in Dothan is Southern Baptist, no surprise there. However, I was surprised to learn that Dothan is home to a Reformed Jewish Synagogue. Temple Emanu-El gained national spotlight in 2008 when Jewish families were offered as much as $50,000 to relocate to Dothan.
Dothan also takes pride in proclaiming itself the “Peanut Capital of the World.” We all take pride in something, don’t we? Often, pride is good thing. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in producing peanuts. Nothing wrong with taking pride in your job or children. The problem is that if we are not careful, pride can become distorted.
The church fathers of the Middle Ages put pride on their list of deadly sins. The problem with pride, they said, is where it takes you. For example, it is one thing to have pride in your child, but sometimes that turns into pressuring your child to meeting your own unfilled expectations or worse yet, to make yourself look good in front of other parents. That is when pride becomes deadly.
Tony Campolo wrote, “Pride is arrogant self-worship. It is the sin of exalting oneself and placing one’s own interests above the interests of others.” People who are full of this kind of pride are, literally, full of themselves.
Too frequently this arrogance keeps someone from saying, “I am sorry.” Some folks just can’t swallow their pride, even when they know they should. Over time, pride can destroy relationships.
Have you thought about the things that fill you with pride? More importantly, are they leading you where you want to go?