Why Do We Rely On Pride to Teach?

Kids are back in school. Here’s a little education-of-kids Christian criticism to chew on.

The first temper that we try to awaken in children is pride; as dangerous a passion as that of lust. We stir them up to vain thoughts of themselves, and do every thing we can to puff up their minds with a sense of their own abilities.

“Whatever way of life we intend them for, we apply to the fire and vanity of their minds, and exhort them to every thing from corrupt motives. We stir them up to action from principles of strife and ambition, from glory, envy, and a desire of distinction that they may excel others, and shine in the eyes of the world.

“And when we have taught them to scorn to be out-done by any, to bear no rival, to thirst after every instance of applause, to be content with nothing but the highest distinctions, then we begin to take comfort in them, and promise the world some mighty things from youths of such a glorious spirit.

“That this is the nature of our best education, is too plain to need any proof; and I believe there are few parents, but would be glad to see these instructions daily given to their children.

And after all this, we complain of the effects of pride; we wonder to see grown men actuated and governed by ambition, envy, scorn, and a desire of glory; not considering that they were all the time of their youth called upon to all their action and industry, upon the same principles.

“You teach a child to scorn to be outdone, to thirst for distinction and applause; and is it any wonder that he continues to act all his life in the same manner? Now if a youth is ever to be so far a Christian, as to govern his heart by the doctrines of humility, I would fain know at what time he is to begin it: or, if he is ever to begin it at all, why we train him up in tempers quite contrary to it?

How dry and poor must the doctrine of humility sound to a youth, that has been spurred up to all his industry by ambition, envy, emulation, and a desire of glory and distinction! And if he is not to act by these principles when he is a man, why do we call him to act by them in his youth?”

This quote is from William Law who wrote it in his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life written in 1728. Pride is one of our central motivators in raising kids. It is rampant in public school humanistic education, just as much in the homeschooling “look how smarter my kids are than those public school kids” environment.

True Gospel Christianity has very little in common with anything in our world.


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