Tag Archives: humility

True Humility

weekly theme #52 True Humility*  

week containing the Sunday between October 23-29

One of the best ways for me to be humbled is to be around someone better than me.  I’ve looked like a fool in athletic contests, been hiked into the ground, and displayed my ignorance on many a test.  However, the ultimate humbling will be to stand before the LORD.  What have I ever done or said that will impress the LORD?  Thankfully, he doesn’t seek my greatness he seeks my worship.  Worship is a form of humility because it places me in the position of a servant.  Worship declares that I am not the ruler of myself.  Worship yanks from under me any platform for self-praise or boasting.  All praise belongs to God.

When I say I’m proud of an accomplishment, I’m most likely just proud of myself.  When I reflect back on accomplishments, I am tempted to reside there and bask in my past.  However, if I look back as an act of worship to God’s work, work that he allowed me to be a part of, it can inspire me to be ready for the next serving opportunity God has prepares.

I can be a Christian leader and still not be humble.  Loud boasting or obvious acts of selfishness are not required to be self-focused.  I see more subtle evidence in my own life: impatience, defensiveness*, judging other’s motives, concern about being used while serving, and mentally ranking the worth of people.  The most damning evidence of my self-focus is when I receive an instruction from God and respond with “Yes, but I don’t think…”  I’m sure there are other signs of selfishness in my life that I can’t even see – but you can.

For me, humility takes intentional effort, and I’m not sure it will ever come naturally.  I guess the first step is seeing the problem.  The next step is asking God to create a desire in me for humility.  The courage to continue in humility, even when it’s humiliating – that’s a gift from God, too.

*thoughts on “defensiveness” as a sign of self-focus – I live in the tension of two conditions.  God created me from dust, I am a chronic sinner, and I am mortal flesh.  However, I am also a beloved child of God, I am cleansed of sin by Jesus, and I am an immortal soul.  If I fail to embrace both sides of this coin, if I see myself only as one or the other, I can end up self-absorbed.  That self-absorption can be revealed by arrogant boasting or by defensive insecurity and neither is God’s desire. Paul identified himself to Timothy as an apostle as well as the worst of all sinners.  Paul described similar extremes for Jesus in Philippians 2:6-7.  I believe remembering those extremes allowed Paul to be so usable by God.  Lack of knowing who I am and lack of confidence that God can accept me as I am creates unsure footing for walking the path of service.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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weekly theme #49 Faithfulness*     

week containing the Sunday between October 2-8

Faithfulness seems to be a two-way street.  I receive God’s faithfulness and he receives mine.  Certainly, I have the better part of that arrangement, both in purity of the faithfulness and in its depth.  Yes, without a doubt, I am getting the better end of this relationship.  Then what keeps me from living in complete faith?

I think my faith in God is diluted by my faith in other items: people, money, position, medicine, strategy, organizations, and the like.  All those things are valuable but only as secondary to faith in, and to, the Lord.  What else hinders my faithfulness?  I tend to think of faithfulness as a personally generated quality.  Faithfulness is rooted in my faith, and I can’t generate faith on my own efforts.  God gives faith to me.  (Romans 12:3)  Acknowledging my need for more faith and humbling myself to admit I don’t control it are two excellent steps toward being more faithful.

Trial and difficulty provide pressures that humble me and force me to turn to God.  Either I can beg God to rescue me from my adversity or I can ask him to build my faith as I go through it.  Yes, even faithful people have trials.  Hebrews 11:32-12:2 shows that even faithful followers will suffer.  The severity of suffering will vary, perhaps gauged by what I can bear.  Suffering does not indicate poor faith in me or a lack of love and faithfulness by God.  Suffering and faithfulness can live in the same house.  In fact, Jesus modeled perfect faithfulness and love while simultaneously suffering.  He was faithful to Father as an obedient servant, and he was faithful to me as the loving Lamb of God.

Jesus told a story about a man who entrusted his servants with money to invest for him while he traveled.  (If you don’t know the story, see Matthew 25:144-30 or Luke 19:12-27.)  The story leaves out one character that I longed to know about.  What would have happened if the servant had invested the master’s money, but ended up with less than what the Master gave him?  How would the master have responded?  That bothered me for a long time, but someone told me that the master gave the money to the servants because he had faith they would succeed if they tried.  I don’t need to hide from God’s assignments because he already knows the results.  What happens will be no surprise to him.  Therefore, even if I don’t have faith in myself, I can have faith in the Master’s faith in me!

God is faithful regardless of my unfaithfulness because faithfulness is his character.  I can be faithful because of who he is and in the face of all other things.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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True Greatness

weekly theme #44 True Greatness*

week containing the Sunday between Aug 28 and Sept 3

The writers of every era have proclaimed certain people as “great”.  Whether it was an Egyptian inscription or today’s instagram, people judge others and themselves on a scale of worth.  People are judged as “great” by their accomplishments, position, wealth, talent, appearance, and even because they are entertaining.  What makes me great in God’s eyes?  One thing is quite clear.  Greatness to Jesus is evidenced by serving others.  Deeper than that, I need a heart of service because I can “serve” in a homeless shelter a couple of hours a month but still possess the attitude of a master.

I think a servant’s heart is most difficult for leaders.  People submit to leaders, which leads the leader to adapt to treating people as servants.  Whether I’m the head of the household or the Head of State, leading with a humble spirit, rather than a position of power, is only possible by my submission to God’s intervention.  Maybe that’s why humble, modest leaders are so rare.

I am starting to believe that great people are not identified by their extravagance but by being content with enough.  My acquisition of material possessions is determined more by advertising and “keeping up with the Jones” than by Jesus’ example and words.  In Matthew 6:32-33 Jesus says, “Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things?  Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day-to-day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”  In fact, Jesus said that the greatest person who ever lived was John the Baptist, a man who lived on food he gathered from the wild and who wore animal skins as his clothes.  True greatness knows when to say, “Enough stuff!”

Jesus was busy, but he wasn’t too busy for people.  Greatness requires me to take time for people.  It takes time to care, listen, morn, seek justice on behalf of others, and be merciful.  “Lord, may I look back at this day and fall asleep knowing I pleased you and was helpful to others.  Amen.”

Jesus talked about positions in heaven such as the left and right hand of Father, the least, and the great.  One of those times (Matthew 5:19) he said that a person obeying God and teaching others to do the same will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.  I think it is noteworthy that Jesus desires teaching to accompany obedience.  He repeats that theme in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20), and Paul emphasizes it to Timothy.  (2 Timothy 2:2)  Teaching others to follow the Lord is what great people do.  Being a great teacher is not necessary, let alone be the goal.  Skill in teaching will come with experience, and experience comes with practice, trial, and mistakes.  The godly heart of the teacher is the foundation on which a good teacher is produced.

What is true greatness?  It’s nothing like what the world craves, applauds, or rewards.  It is an inner, soul issue.  Jesus said there is no profit if I gain the entire world but lose my soul.  I have neither gained the world nor lost my soul, but I think my soul has eroded through the years.  I absorbed some of the world slowly over time – almost unconsciously.  This slow seep has polluted the soul entrusted to me.  True greatness is nurturing the soul given me by the LORD.  I do that by loving the LORD with all that I am, to the point that gaining even a piece of the world holds no attraction.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Descending Into Greatness

Descending Into Greatness by Bill Hybels

I read this book in an effort to find humility, but I really found humility through a life “mishap”.  This book allowed me to build on it. 

By yielding my power to self-rule, I open myself to my God-designed destiny.  I discovered that the result of surrendering control is a lightened burden.  I was no longer responsible for results.   Descending is not so much who I am or what I have but what I do with both.  Who’s agenda shall I advance – God’s or mine?  The author provided wise counsel regarding the path to greatness.  It isn’t where I had been looking.  Following Christ is not a onetime decision.  It’s hundreds of decisions every day. 

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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