When Pride Infiltrates Serving: Can We, As Parents, Show Humility When Posting On Social Media?

by | Apr 3, 2023

Years ago I used to have an email tagline that read….

“The heart is the happiest when it beats for others.”

It resonated with me. It reminded me of how my parents raised my six siblings and me. So, more than anything, I wanted my own children to have a deep compassion for what God called, “the least of these” in Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40

 I still like that tagline because God brings us joy when we don’t make life about us. But I have since learned, especially in today’s world of technology sharing, that we must be careful in how we approach our giving, our serving, and even how we love others.


I was raised on a farm in the midwest — large family, small farmhouse — and living the “I Am Third” idea was not necessarily a recommendation but rather a way of life. I grew up thinking we must be poor because of our frugal and simple way of living; and yet somehow I knew we were rich in the ways that mattered. I watched my parents serve others well…so selflessly, so quietly, so purposefully. My dad often led worship, taught Sunday School classes, served as an elder and was intentional with neighbors and friends. My mom made quilts each week at The Sewing to be donated, taught Vacation Bible School classes and made many meals for the needy. They served during disasters in other states, invested in many missions and delivered Meals on Wheels for over 30 years. They made sure we also did our part volunteering in our church and community. It was just as common nature as brushing our teeth.

Seems like an idyllic, selfless life, right? But here’s the funny thing….

If we aren’t careful, Satan can turn our God-given fruit, our service, and our children’s service, into prideful giving and boastfulness, so covertly, that our hearts and minds don’t even notice.

I can look back and see how I failed in this regard. As my parents did, I too wanted to play an active role in steering my children to have a heart for Jesus and one that beats for others. That was high on my parenting checklist. However, sometimes we can become more confident in ourselves (and in parenting), than being confident in who God says we are in Christ.

As an example, our first mission trip together with our kids was a hard, yet beautiful and meaningful time. As with many mission trips, it can open our eyes and change our hearts way more than we think we can be the conduit of life-change for who we are serving. Seeing my kids stirring and shoveling concrete, dancing with mentally challenged children, sharing the Gospel through drawings and watching my daughter give her new tennis shoes to a boy whose shoes had fallen apart, filled my heart with joy…


…but also with pride. I felt the good kind of pride (delight and pleasure in our children as we appreciate their gifts/choices), but also the sinful kind of pride (comparison which produces arrogance).

“Yes!” I thought, “they got it!” They understood compassion, serving, and humility! Check that box. But in the process of all of that good stuff that God was growing in their hearts, my pride also grew…as if I had created those humble character traits, as if their actions were literally because of my good parenting skills. I did the “humble brag” about our mission trip on Facebook, deliberately posting images of my kids in their best serving poses — gently cradling “the least of these,” — as well as photos portraying all the hard work and selfless love they exuded. Truthfully, I had a real, sincere life-changing experience while on that trip where God showed up in a very big way and I think my kids had one too. Honestly, I just wanted to share the experience with the world! But that’s where I unknowingly let Satan inflate my ego so invisibly by using the ugly means of “comparison.”


By comparison, I was a better parent. By comparison, my children were better kids. I enjoyed reading the comments of how precious my kids were and that they were “the best.”As C.S. Lewis put it in his book, Mere Chrisianity:


 “pride is the pleasure of having more, and being more, than the next person.”

-C.S. Lewis 

Thankfully, God showed me through His Word and through prayer that I had it all wrong. It started to feel icky and not pleasurable at all. So thus, I made concerted efforts going forward to empty myself of “me” and always try to point to God first. And in so doing, my children learned that they are just broken vessels as well, trying their best to please God first. We all still get it wrong because pride is so sneaky! But His grace is sufficient for today, and always. 


Lastly, I believe as parents we all should cultivate compassion and provide opportunities for our children to serve others and do HARD things. They need that exposure and knowledge about the underprivileged and unreached people groups of the world; however, our motive MUST FIRST be to glorify God and obey His commandments, NOT to get volunteer hours, build a resume or pat ourselves on the back while pridefully displaying our children on social media. That is not “self-forgetfulness” as Timothy Keller says in his book,The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. (Which is a life-changing book that, in my opinion, everyone should read.)


So how can we be humble about our children and teach them to be humble servants of God without the interference of pride? 

  • Total transformation must take place in us first. This will guide everything we do in the lives of our children. Not that we are solely responsible for our children’s spiritual walk, but we need to model the way for them.
  • Our heart is “the wellspring of life” which is why God says we need to protect it.  Teach your children that they need to be careful about what they think. Thoughts can steer our lives in the wrong direction.

“Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it…”

Proverbs 4:23-27

  • Instill daily that the only opinion that truly matters is the Lord’s. Corinthians 3:21-4:7 If while serving others, they see us instead of Jesus, we are doing it all wrong. 
  • Rather than telling our children to be proud of themselves by what they do, teach them to thank God for the grace he has shown them through Jesus, for the way he is working in their lives and the abilities he has given them for serving him.

God has given us children and it is our responsibility to care for them. If we make wise decisions on their behalf and work hard at bringing them up well, we have been faithful in the responsibilities God has given us. Should we congratulate ourselves? Maybe we should just thank God for our children, for the abilities he has given them and how his spirit is working in them.

    Therefore, as it is written:


     “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

     1Corinthians 1:31

    “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

    Romans 12:3 (NIV)

    “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”

    –Phillippians 2:3 (NIV)

    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

    Matthew 18:1-4


    “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

    1Corinthians 1:28-31

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