Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BRAG (04/20/17)
TITLE: I Drove The Pride Bus
By Phillip Cimei
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Jenks Public Schools was the envy of every school teacher, principal, and athlete. It was one of the best public schools in Oklahoma. And they knew it. Now, look at me, I was their proud principal. Okay, take the finger out of your mouth. You will have time later to get sick of the bragging. I know, it’s like going to a stranger’s house and here come the home movies and the twenty photo albums. You’re probably thinking, “God made this guy double jointed because he can sure pat himself on the back.” Hang in there. Maybe we can find out why I am driving this pride bus.
Why did I get there? Was it ego, pride, a need for recognition, or because I wanted to benefit the students? Did I do it for my own children? I could get them exposed to the best, so they could be the best.
“Oh no!” you say. “He became one of those parents that had to live his life vicariously through his children. The ones that scream out, ‘That’s my son who threw the winning touchdown.’ The parents that won’t accept defeat.”
No, it wasn’t that. Maybe it was low self-esteem.
I had reasons to have low self-esteem: abused as a child, father calling me a failure, and never hearing my mother say, “I love you.” No. Maybe I sought perfection because I was so imperfect.
I couldn’t ever finish anything. I felt that I wasn’t’ ever going to be good enough. I even stopped being a full-time minister because I felt that the bickering and arguing over silly things were the characteristics of imperfect Christians; I must find the “perfect church”. Maybe I just had to prove to the world that if they couldn’t be the best, I could.
One person lit the fuse to the pride bomb. “Go to college and you will make more money to support your family,” he said. Innocent enough of a suggestion. I would be able to support my wife and seven children better. I took his advice.
I worked eight hours a day, went to college at night, was enrolled in three colleges at once, and completed my four-year degree in less than two years, maintaining a 3.9 GPA. I then completed my Master’s degree in one year with a 4.0 GPA. I graduated Magna Cum Laud. Ready to barf yet? The seeds of pride were planted; I needed validation. I was immediately hired at the school in which I was employed as a maintenance man. Would I flush humility down the toilet I once fixed?
I taught four years, got a principal’s job at a small school and then came the big change. Jenks Public Schools hired me as principal. Success flourished: all second graders were playing the violin, every student was learning chess, a nationally recognized intergenerational program, coaching a chess team of 200 students from kindergarten through twelfth grades, and winning eight state championships—all my own children were individual state champions. And there I sit in the custom coach bus proclaiming Jenks Pride. Okay, you can puke now. Was I satisfied? Pride never is. What next?
Holland Hall was the top private school in Oklahoma. The Oxford of pre-collegiate academia. They did a national search for a principal and I was in the top three. My former secretary knew the administration and said I was going to get the job. I had a visit with the dean of students and he said that I would have to go to cocktail parties with their benefactors and hob nob with their rich parents. “Wake up, sleeper” Eph. 5:14 NIV
The Holy spirit woke me with a lightning bolt to the heart, “…lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16 KJV)
I called the next day and said I was accepting a position at a small rural school. My goals again became: being poor in spirit, making my Lord #1, and godliness with contentment.
Why did I get on the pride bus? I’m not sure. Did my journey make you sick? Well, I hope it at least makes you cautious. And if that bus ever opens its door to you, turn around and run.
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