I sat mesmerized watching the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics last night. What a spectacular display of artistry, technology and beauty. Every element of the program, from the giant floor level LED screen to the synchronized drummers to the elegant dancers to the parade of ethnic children to the giant globe rising from the middle to the runner skipping along the scrim to light the torch. Amazing.
What we witnessed was Chinese pride, rightly on display. The Chinese people finally had opportunity to showcase their people and their country's rich heritage. And, in working hard on the production, they served us well. I think that's the measure of appropriate pride. Pride is a deadly sin when it is self-serving. But, when pride pushes a person (or a nation) to a level of excellence that results in a blessing to everyone, it no longer is a vice, but a virtue.
When I am rightly proud of my church, I serve within it and advance it's mission. I invite my neighbors to be a part of it. My pride benefits others.
When I'm proud of my job, I demonstrate it by working hard, guarding against the kind of unethical dangers that could compromise my company. I arrive on time and stay until the job is done. My pride pours over into my performance on behalf of others.
When I'm proud of my country, I protect its resources, don't throw trash from my car window, vote in elections and pray for my leaders. Again, my pride selflessly serves others.
There is a pride that goes before destruction [Proverbs 16:18]. But, the Chinese pride that opened the Olympic games is worth modeling in our own personal lives.
To see more incredible Opening Ceremony pictures, click here.