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Posts Tagged ‘Humility’

Jack Prelutsky, my favorite author of poetry for children wrote a poem, that includes these words:

I’m the single most wonderful person I know.

I’m witty, I’m charming, I’m smart,

I’m often so brilliant I actually glow …

 

… I’m uncategorically clever,

there is only one thing that I can’t understand –

why nobody likes me … not ever! (1)

 

The world has been vexing me lately.  From my perspective, no one sees things my way nor do they want to do things my way.  I cannot understand why everyone does not understand the brilliance of my logic and reasoning.

 

Surely, nothing is wrong with me.

 

God made a suggestion to me the other day … Try submitting to others!

 

Submit and submission are two words which go against the grain of our human nature.  

 

If you asked me to humble myself and to respect you I would not be so defensive, but please do not ask that I submit to you.  

 

Submission is demeaning and humiliating when it is forced upon us.

 

Submission is freeing, when we take it up.

 

I have decided to practice submitting to others.  While it is hard, I am finding it to be a blessing.  I am finding more peace in trusting God, than in battling others.  I know this peace is from God.  

 

Peter wrote: “Clothe yourselves with humility … for God gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

 

Submission is humility put into practice!

 

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(1) The New Kid on the Block: Poems by Jack Prelutsky, Jack Prelutsky, Greenwillow Books, New York, 1984, p. 137.

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… in humility consider yourself less important than others …

Philippians 2:3

In her recent book Quiet, Susan Cain reports that to survive in the MBA program at Harvard Business School you have to be an outgoing, aggressive, and vocal student.  The quiet and demurring student will be crushed in class and is likely to receive poor grades.

Studies in group dynamics and decision-making find that groups follow vocal and aggressive leaders.  Furthermore, this research  has found that these groups frequently make bad decisions, because wise quiet souls never had a chance to speak.

The lack of humility on campus and at the office can be traced to bad decisions that cause  a multitude of problems for all of us.

Humility is under-rated in America.

In the eyes of God and children, humility may be your best attribute, particularly when combined with genuine love.

Betty never served in a leadership role at church.  She declined invitations to serve on committees.  She was rarely in worship.  Yet many young adults in her church were asked, “Who in the church had the greatest impact upon your life?”

Betty was consistently named by more people than anyone else.

Betty took up the one task that is so hard to fill in the church.  She served as the congregation’s pre-school teacher for more than 50 years.  She never complained about missing worship, not hearing the choir’s special music, and not having a break from teaching.

Betty quietly made a significant impact upon others.

Humble souls do not depreciate their significance, rather they let others toot their own  horns, while they quietly change the world in humility.

Would our world be a better place if we let the humble lead?

God does.

… with humility and gentleness love others 

and submit to them out of reverence for Jesus …

Ephesians 4:2 and 5:21

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… be of one and the same mind, 

have the same love, be in full accord …

 

You may be tempted to credit Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr Oz, or one of a host of contemporary pop psychologists for this kernel of wisdom, necessary for building a strong marriage, family, or community. 

 

Pop psychologists love to borrow freely from scripture.  This nugget of wisdom is from Philippians 2:2. 

 

God’s desire is that His people get along.  Unfortunately, the church today is a hothouse of division and conflict.  Go into any church in America today and you’ll find a divided house.  

 

Congregations are divided over:

Dress codes for worship

The style of music used in worship

Use of videos and projectors

Times for worship

Coffee, thermostats, sound systems, and volume

 

None of these are burning biblical or theological issues.  They are all issues of personal preference.  

 

Somewhere along the way Christians have convinced themselves that the 1976 Burger King commercial, “Have it your way.” is a quote from scripture.  It’s not!

 

It’s easy for us to point the finger at others who want to have it their way.  But God’s desire is that we look within at ourselves.  

 

Are you looking for a Burger King Church?  If you are angry at your Pastor or the leadership board of your church; if you have stopped going to worship; if you frequently change churches, all because worship and community life does not suit your personal preferences, God has a Word for you.

 

My wife admires those older couples in the congregation who never complain when we sing contemporary praise music.  She equally admires younger members who are agreeable when we sing hymns from the 1800’s.  

 

God smiles on these saints because they get it.  They understand Philippians 2:2.  They have learned to put others ahead of themselves.

 

What about you?

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Sometimes we are too concerned with protecting the reputation of people 

but too little concerned with protecting the holy name of God. (1)

 

The reputation which I want to protect the most is mine.

 

I want to be liked.  This is my greatest failing; it is my weakest link; it is my most serious sin.  

 

I want you to like me.  I even want my enemies to like me.  Furthermore, I am so vain that I want people I loathe to like me.

 

When we are in the business of guarding our reputation, of being likable and popular, we will throw anyone under the bus in a heart beat, including God.

 

In my desire to be liked, I frequently throw God under the bus.

 

When I finally learned that my calling as a Christian was to bring glory to the name of God, I started making enemies left and right.  My like-ability rating bottomed out.  The reason enemies rise up against us when we give glory to God is that He outshines them.

 

It is hard to outshine God.  

 

The only way to outshine God is to get rid of Him.  

 

It’s me or Jesus. 

 

Hmmm ….

 

“Give the Lord the glory due unto his name.”  (2)

 

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 3991-3992). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
  2. Psalm 29:2.

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The way you handle your sin 

is as important as the sin itself. (1)

A friend came to me recently to let me know how I had hurt them awhile ago.  Since my offense, our relationship had been broken for them, while I thought all was well.

While I had not intended to hurt them, I had.  This is a common everyday event in all relationships.

When a friend points out our sin to us we have the choice of responding in one of two ways.  We can take offense and defend ourselves or we can humble ourselves and graciously apologize.

Our natural tendency is to defend ourselves, especially when we did not mean to offend.  By doing so, we communicate that our friend, who has come to us in love and with wounds, is wrong, unreasonable, and overly-sensitive.

A defensive response not only exasperates the brokenness within the relationship, but causes the the relationship to quickly descend into a downward spiral.

Why do we do this?  I’ll place my money on pride.  I hate being wrong.  I loathe being told I was wrong.  However, I must confess that my friend did me a great favor.

By listening, I learned that I need to be watch my behavior in a specific situation which causes me stress and frustration as a pastor.  While I did not intend to sin, the manner in which I handled myself was offensive.

I am grateful that my friend came to me.  Their compassionate honesty helped to make me a better pastor.

In the end my sin made me a better person.

Paul reminds us,

“We all sin and fall short of the glory of God … the wages of sin is death.” (2)

Sin does not have to lead to a death.

Grace covers the wages of sins.

When sin is handled with a gracious apology, it leads to life.

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Location 3115). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Romans 3:23 and 6:23

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Thank You God

When I teach leaders to pray, I start by teaching the group the Thank You God form of prayer.  It is a simple and safe form of group prayer.

Everyone prays in turn as we move around the circle.  Pray what you wish.  When you have finished your prayer, close with the words, “Thank you God”. These closing words signal the next person in the circle to pray.

The beauty of this prayer is not everyone prefers to pray out loud in groups.  They do not need to do this in this form of prayer.  They may pray quietly and then, when led by God, simply pray aloud, “Thank you God”. Thus, signaling the next person to pray.

Martin Luther wrote:

We’re showered with blessings every day, and we’re always using what God gives us. …  we accept his gifts as if they simply appeared out of nowhere or as if we earned them through our own efforts, diligence, or wisdom. We think that God somehow owes us these things, and therefore we don’t need to thank him. (1)

As I walk through my day, whether with others or alone, I pray the Thank you God prayer regularly.  

It keeps my heart and spirit grateful and humble.

As you journey through today take time to pray the Thank You God prayer.

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 117). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

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Go into the streets and alleys of the town …

Go out to the roads and country lanes …

Like 14: 21 and 23

Linsanity is sweeping the nation.

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has released a new ice cream flavor in honor of Jeremy Lin, the out-of-the-blue star point guard for the New York Knicks.

My advice for Jeremy Lin is to remain humble and ordinary.  He will be of greater use to God once his 15 minutes of fame has expired.

One of my dreams in to publish a book.  The fear accompanying my dream is that 3 months after the book is published no one will buy it, even after Barnes and Noble puts it on the Sidewalk Sale Table, listed at 99% off.

Do you dream about being famous, but know you never will be?

Perhaps you are very dissatisfied with yourself. You are not a genius, have no distinctive gifts, and are inconspicuous when it comes to having any special abilities. Mediocrity seems to be the measure of your existence. None of your days are noteworthy, except for their sameness and lack of zest. (1)

Do not let your lack of fame bother you.

God likes ordinary people.  No one in the Bible was every famous before God used them for His purposes.

Ordinary people are the ones who do great things for God.  Even if the world does not notice you, God does.

George Matheson had the right attitude:

“For my part, I will be satisfied not to have some great tombstone over my grave but just to know that common people will gather there once I am gone and say, ‘He was a good man, he told me about Jesus.’” (1)

It is better to stand in the shadow of Jesus, than for Jesus to stand in your shadow.

Jesus is the light of the world, let Him cast your shadow.

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 87). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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