"What Do I Have to Prove?"
"The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice." Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)
A new city, new neighborhood and new school for my children had me feeling very new, too. And insecure. And lonely. And wondering, How would I ever fit in and feel a part of this new community?
So when my children brought home a flyer for the PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization) meeting, I stuck it to the refrigerator, marked the date on the calendar and decided this was the perfect first step to meet other moms like myself. But that wasn’t all, I also wanted to use my experience and talents somehow.
The meeting night came, and after a few wrong turns on the unfamiliar campus, I saw a light glowing through the library door. I rushed across the breezeway and walked in with seconds to spare. I’d hoped to meet a few people before the meeting started, but every table was filled with smiling, laughing, we-are-already-friends women. So instead I found a back table, and sat next to a father who seemed as out-of-place as I felt.
Discussion centered around teacher mini-grants, playground equipment, trees and the annual t-shirt sale. The organization was very well run, and at first it seemed they had no need for me. Until the Spring Fun Fest conversation began.
Then it became apparent they needed someone to organize the snack bar. The room was silent when they asked for volunteers. Of course, I should have asked what was involved, but I’d been organizing projects since I led my childhood friends into starting clubs, putting on plays and hosting backyard fundraising carnivals. So I raised my hand, and found myself in charge of running all the food service for the event.
You know that feeling when you are in your sweet spot? That’s how I felt organizing the snack bar. This was something I could do easily. I got myself a new pocket folder to keep my notes, added some crisp lined paper and started making lists. People to call, things to buy, supplies we’d need. They were going to be amazed at how well this was organized! Maybe it would even be the best snack bar EVER!
Everything was going great, and then the next PTO meeting arrived. One of the other moms, a veteran PTO gal, walked up to me with a huge smile and said, "I found a great sale on soda, so I picked up some for the snack bar. Let me show you where I stored it."
Rather than appreciating a kind gesture from someone who knew how much work the snack bar really was, I immediately felt defensive. Did she think I wasn’t capable of buying soda for a snack bar?
I followed her to a storage room and saw stacks of soda — every variety. At that moment, I should have been grateful. I should have oozed thankfulness. But I didn’t. She sensed something was wrong, but didn’t quite know what, and the moment got very awkward.
My insecurities came from a deep desire to prove myself worthy. To show I have what it takes. When my abilities were questioned (at least in my eyes), I felt like a porcupine with its quills standing at attention. And my potential new friend felt the sting of the barbs.
Rather than walking into that situation with humility, I walked in with pride. Rather than asking for advice and help, I tried to prove something by doing it alone. My approach hindered what my heart really wanted to do: make friends.
God later convicted me of my prideful attitude, and used that situation to teach me an important lesson that has stayed with me:
I need to walk into every new situation with something to learn, not something to prove.
Being a know-it-all isn’t God’s way nor is it the wise way. In fact, the book of Proverbs is clear that wisdom comes from humility. Our key verse says, "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice" (Proverbs 12:15).
As I’ve practiced this approach over the years, I’ve learned it’s much easier to make friends. Plus, I’ve learned I really don’t know the best way for everything. God still has new things for me to learn every day, and He usually uses people to teach me. Even when I’m in my sweet spot.
Father, thank You for teaching me Your ways are always best. Help me approach every new situation with a heart that is open and gentle, ready to learn whatever new things You have for me that day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ecclesiastes 4:13, "It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice." (NLT)
Proverbs 19:20, "Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise." (NIV)