By Zhu Qing
The Book of Proverbs says, “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro 16:18). Being an outstanding teacher, she once used it as a capital, became proud and thus suffered a fall. After picking herself up from her pain, she finally realized that only obtaining the truth and living out the likeness of man is the most worth being proud of.
Capital Feeds Her Pride
Christian Shanshan is a kindergarten teacher. Because she was modest and diligent, and constantly improved her teaching skills, she quickly became an outstanding teacher. Because of this, she was thought highly of by the kindergarten principal. On top of that, she had a strong sense of responsibility for her students which won her their parents’ approval and trust, and she became indispensable to the kindergarten. It was at the time when the seed of pride began to sprout in her heart.
“Shanshan, this month’s demonstration class is just around the corner, but the new teacher Qingqing doesn’t know how to prepare her lesson. You are experienced in this. Please give her some help.” The principal said, coming up to Shanshan.
At these words, Shanshan turned to look at Qingqing, who was preparing her lesson: She was furrowing her brows, resting her head on her hand, she seemed to be mulling and was scribbling on the paper.
Shanshan nodded reluctantly as her mind was churning with thoughts, “Again guide a new teacher? Those of high caliber are easier to guide but those of poor caliber are troublesome. Qingqing looks simple and silly; guiding her must not be easy. But since the principal has asked me to do it, I have no other choice.”
Shanshan came over to Qingqing and on her high horse, said, “When you teach a demonstration class, first don’t panic, just be natural. You should write neatly and arrange all your teaching materials in an orderly way. And make sure your lecture is coherent….”
While listening to this, Qingqing took notes hurriedly. Sometimes she wrote some of what should be taught in reverse order and sometimes she could only understand a problem until it was explained several times. Seeing this, Shanshan couldn’t help looking down on her, and thought, “I have guided so many new teachers, but none of whom were like you. If you make a mess of your demonstration class, don’t tell others that I have taught you before. It would really be a shame to me.”
Qingqing, following Shanshan’s direction, put her mind to the preparation of the lesson and her class received the approval from the principal and the students’ parents. Upon hearing this, Shanshan couldn’t help but secretly delight: It seems I am quite capable, otherwise how can Qingqing, with an average caliber, get such an achievement? At the thought of this, a look of pride appeared on Shanshan’s face.
Pride Makes Her Fall
Before long, two teachers were sent to study new teaching methods and Qingqing was one of them. Knowing this, Shanshan was really unhappy and she thought, “Qingqing is a new comer with an average caliber, how is she qualified to be sent to study? I am an old stager and far superior to her, so why was I not chosen?” The more she thought about this, the more upset she felt.
After Qingqing returned, she was surrounded and consulted by other colleagues about new teaching methods. At the sight of her happy look, Shanshan felt quite uncomfortable, thinking, “What’s there to cheer for when you only grasped some new teaching methods? If it had been me, I would have studied better than you.”
Half a month later, the principal required every teacher to teach a demonstration class using new teaching methods with a specifically assigned subject. After Shanshan received her subject, her heart sank. She thought, “Teaching in new methods? Isn’t it Qingqing’s forte? Though I have been studying them for two weeks, I haven’t been clear about how to put them to good use in actual teaching. So how should I prepare my lesson? Maybe I should consult Qingqing.” However, another thought came to her: If I seek help from her, then won’t this be a signal to others that I am not so good at new teaching methods? Won’t I appear inferior to her? Then how will others see me?
Shanshan was trying to come up with a teaching plan herself but could only write half of it; she felt really irritable and looked very distressed. Just then, a colleague approached Qingqing and said, “Qingqing, would you mind checking over my teaching plan? I don’t know how to put the teaching material into my lecture….” This sight depressed Shanshan because her colleagues used to consult her. Discontented, she couldn’t help but think, “It’s just teaching in new methods, isn’t it? With my years of teaching experience, I don’t believe that I can’t finish it. I must do better than Qingqing and not let my colleagues look down upon me.”
Seeing that all her colleagues had finished their plans except Shanshan, Qingqing walked over and stood beside her to look through her plan. Then she carefully said, “There are some discrepancies between what you have written and new teaching methods. The old method only allows students to mechanically read words while the new one is flexible and it aims at helping students draw inferences from what they have learned….” Also, she recommended Shanshan some teaching aids.
At Qingqing’s words, Shanshan thought, “Look at how proud you are! I’ve just taught you how to teach a demonstration class last time, and now you want to teach me? Though you are better at new teaching methods, I am not worse than you.” Then she stood up and said, “Your teaching method is indeed better than mine. But you’d better first ask if I need your advice.” Hearing this left Qingqing stunned, she blushed and walked away embarrassedly. At the sight of Qingqing’s look, Shanshan suddenly felt somewhat guilty, because she thought what she had said was a bit too much. But shrouded in her past glory, she was too proud to accept others’ advice.
After Qingqing left, Shanshan still couldn’t think of any good teaching plan. Unconsciously Qingqing’s advice came to her. She thought, “Her teaching method is really something I’ve never thought of. Preparing my lesson using her method will make the class more lively and will easily spark the students’ interest and I will certainly gain the approval of their parents. But if my colleagues learn that I have received Qingqing’s help, then won’t they think that I am incompetent? No, I must not let that happen, I won’t do it her way.” At the thought of this, Shanshan continued writing her teaching plan according to her own idea. Then she finished it and went to teach her demonstration class.
After class, the principal went to Shanshan and said seriously, “Shanshan, as an experienced teacher, you should set a good example to newcomers. But your lesson disappoints me so much. Even the new teacher can do better than you. Well, I’ll give you one more chance to teach a demonstration class tomorrow. Don’t disappoint me again.” These words were like a slap in the face. Shanshan was stunned and went beet red. She never thought that things would end up like this—never had her performance disappointed the principal since she began to work here.
Finding the Root of Failure
After returning home, Shanshan recalled how she reacted when Qingqing gave her advice, as well as what the principal said to her, she couldn’t help but reflect: It’s so difficult for me to accept others’ good suggestions and I would rather fail than adopt them, why is it so? She then prayed to God and told Him of her difficulties. Then she read a passage of God’s words, “Man’s corrupt disposition stems from his being poisoned and trampled upon by Satan, from the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. It is precisely because these fundamental things of man have been corrupted by Satan, and are utterly unlike how God originally created them, that man opposes God and does not understand the truth.” Afterward, she read a passage from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “The man with a wildly arrogant disposition always regards himself as better than others and no one is his equal. He is unable to see the strengths and good points of others and even if he does see them, he does not accept them at all and only steps up his attacks, and denigrates them. He sees the faults and shortcomings of others with unusual clarity…. The man with a wildly arrogant disposition is always extremely conceited, inclined to be self-centered, making others hold him in high esteem and gather around him.”
From God’s words and the fellowship, Shanshan understood that ever since we mankind were corrupted by Satan, we often live amidst our corrupt dispositions. With a little capital, we grow arrogant. We are inclined to be self-centered, stand high above others and consider ourselves to be most honorable, always regarding ourselves as better than others and making others gather around us; when we see the advantages and strengths of others, we are not convinced and don’t accept them. All this causes us to be unable to get along well with others. This is caused by our arrogant nature. Shanshan thought back when she told Qingqing how to prepare a demonstration class, Qingqing couldn’t understand her immediately and even wrote the main points of the lesson in reverse order, she belittled Qingqing in her heart; when Qingqing’s performance in the demonstration class received others’ approval, she took credit for it; when Qingqing was sent to study new teaching methods instead of her, she thought she was more qualified because her caliber was better than that of Qingqing, and felt unbalanced inside; when Qingqing was surrounded and consulted after coming back from the study, she even more felt disgruntled; when Qingqing offered to help her with her teaching plan, she refused Qingqing for the sake of her own vanity and self-regard. All of these were because she was compelled by Satan’s law of survival “I am my own lord,” and what she revealed was arrogant and self-important corrupt dispositions. Then Shanshan thought of how when she began to work here, she was able to humble herself to learn from others. Never had she imagined that after having some achievements and work ability and becoming an outstanding teacher, she would look down on other colleagues and be unable to get along with them in a normal fashion. She lost the insight and rationality that man should possess and she lived in suffering and could not extricate herself.
Shanshan read another two passages from God’s words: “God has no elements of self-rightness and self-importance, or those of conceit and arrogance; He has no elements of crookedness. All that disobeys God comes from Satan; Satan is the source of all ugliness and wickedness. The reason that man has qualities alike those of Satan is because man has been corrupted and worked on by Satan. Christ has not been corrupted by Satan, hence He has only the characteristics of God and none of those of Satan.” “God asks that people live out normal humanity in real life, not just in church life; that they live out the truth in real life, not just in church life; that they fulfill their functions in real life, not just in church life. To enter into reality, one must turn everything toward real life. If believers in God cannot enter into real life and know themselves or live out normal humanity in real life, they will become failures.” From God’s words, Shanshan saw God’s humility and hiddenness. She thought of when the Lord Jesus became incarnate to perform work, He washed His disciples’ feet, ate with sinners, healed the sick and destitute people and cast out demons for them, which allowed people to see God’s mercy and love toward people, and feel God’s amiability and respectability. In His interactions with people, He never styled Himself as God. In the end, He was crucified in order to save mankind. In His life there are no elements of conceit and arrogance, self-rightness and self-importance. God’s life is extremely beautiful and kindhearted. As for herself, having been deeply corrupted by Satan, what she did was under the control of her arrogant nature. When interacting with others, she always put on airs and didn’t humble herself; she didn’t treat others properly, nor did she accept others’ opinions, which brought others nothing but pain and left her constantly knocking her head against walls. At that moment, she understood that in order to establish a normal relationship with others, she should first set aside her arrogance and pride, submit under God’s dominion, emulate Christ, and learn to conduct herself humbly; she should seek humbly in things she doesn’t understand, and possess the reason that should be present in normal humanity. When her thoughts reach this point, she knew what she had to do. She couldn’t help but thank and praise God from the bottom of her heart.
Lowering Her Proud Head and Starting Afresh to Become a New Person
At night, Shanshan sat in front of the computer and prepared her lesson following Qingqing’s advice and before long, she finished it. She stretched as she thought, “It turns out that when I put myself aside and humbly accepted others’ suggestion, things have become so easy and joyful.”
The next day, Shanshan’s demonstration class won high praise from the principal and students’ parents. Walking out of the classroom with civility, she went to the plane-tree behind the classroom where she took a deep breath and slowly became calmer. She had always prided herself on others’ praise in the past, but the praise now served as spurs to her. She thought of her attitude toward Qingqing on the day before and felt remorse and reproached herself. Then she plucked up her courage to go to Qingqing and said sheepishly, “Qingqing, I am sorry. What I said yesterday hurt you. I apologize to you. I hope you can forgive me.” Qingqing stopped for a moment and said, smiling, “It doesn’t matter. We are colleagues.” Then they both smiled happily.
After this experience, at work, whoever raised a good suggestion, Shanshan was willing to accept it; her colleagues were willing to tell her whatever were in their hearts. Shanshan felt much freer and her daily work became a pleasure.
One day, Shanshan went to the office for her teaching plan. When she arrived at the door, a voice came from inside: “Shanshan is much better than before, less arrogant and more kind.” Hearing these words brought her a sense of gratitude to God. She thought back on the past when she had been so arrogant that she had reached a stage where she was impervious to reason, and her colleagues all kept a distance from her; if not for this failure and fall, she wouldn’t have come before God and sought the truth, known herself and started afresh to become a new person. It was God’s words that guided her to learn how to conduct herself humbly, find the principles of being a good person, and made her realize that only obtaining the truth and living out the likeness of a human being is worth being proud of.