Tag Archives: humility

A Call for Humility

IMG_2194There is irony in anyone writing an article on the topic of humility. How does one become arrogant and presumptuous enough to address the need for humility in others? Indulge me for a moment.

Andrew Murray said, “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.” It seems that not enough of heaven is living in our world today. We know that until the Kingdom of Christ is established, we will struggle with the human dilemma of pride. But the pain of division, strife and war, much of it caused by our arrogance, is staggering. It seems that some adjustments must be made.

We think that our way is superior. We believe that we are better than others. We dare to assume we know more about others than they know about themselves. We have the nerve to determine the best course of life for those around us. We presume that our opinion is God’s opinion. “The proud wish God would agree with them. They are not interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.” (Ezra Taft Benson) The whole time, we ignore our lack of humility.

Humility may be defined as “a modest view of one’s importance.” We are not to demean or disrespect ourselves. But the Bible instructs us to not think too highly of ourselves. (Romans 12:3) It is a struggle for many. We think our opinions are always right – it is human nature.

But the damage that is done in relationships by a lack of humility is immeasurable.

Not only does a lack of humility destroy relationships, it destroys us. “Time and time again does the pride of man influence his very own fall. While denying it, one gradually starts to believe that he is the authority, or that he possesses great moral dominion over others, yet it is spiritually unwarranted. By that point he loses steam; in result, he falsely begins trying to prove that unwarranted dominion by seizing the role of a condemner.” (Criss Jami, Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile)

I feel compelled to ask you, please consider a more humble approach to life. If you spend time pointing out the faults of others. If you assume that you know more than others know. If you think that you are superior to others. If you disrespect others. If you refuse to consider that you could be wrong. If your opinion is God’s opinion. There is a problem.

The problem with humility is, if it is missing, one may not detect it. We can spot it in others, but we can’t detect it in ourselves.

A moment of quiet reflection: Take a few minutes to sit still and listen to the Lord. Allow Him, if necessary, to point out areas where you may be suffering from a lack of humility. I promise you, I am doing this right now and I have much work to be done in this area.

And hence, as I write about humility, I must be humble enough to consider that I could be all wrong!

Advertisements

Don’t Give Up On Justice

justice

Don’t give up on justice (even when it doesn’t come)!

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:4 (NIV)

We don’t need another Martin/Zimmerman commentary. Apparently we could use a primer on hoping for justice. In light of the recent verdict, and the resulting turbulence, I’ve heard so many people comment that they have simply given up on the idea of true justice in our world. This is a dangerous position to assume. If we lose hope of the possibility of justice, our morality will deteriorate, and quickly.

How to keep justice alive:

  • Understand that only God can be truly just and we can’t expect humankind to behave like Him.  We are the same people who crucified Jesus, how dare we think that we will treat one another any better? We must have a realistic expectation. It has been this way from the beginning – people have been mistreating one another since Cain murdered his brother Abel in Genesis 4.
  • We must be redemption oriented. We have to work to provide a way to heal what has been broken. We must work toward wholeness, though it is slow in coming.
  • Forgiveness must be offered even when justice is refused. Lack of forgiveness turns to bitterness which turns to destruction – both of the victim and the perpetrator.
  • Have a Kingdom of Heaven mentality. Until we get to glory, all of this will continue. Look beyond today to what will come. This is hope that lasts, in spite of prevailing injustice.
  • Practice it. Justice must be for all, including you and me. Treat other people with equity and respect and humility. This is the Spirit of Christ at work within us.

Don’t give up on justice; it’s attainable, even if only by a few. And God alone knows justice – we can count on Him to make all things right one day.  Fix your hope on God!


The Great Equalizer in Preaching

images-137

You’re pouring your heart out. You preach like a man possessed (in a good way). You wax eloquent. And then it happens; you make eye contact with the one person in the crowd that can truly humble you – your spouse.

You can fake it with others, but not with her.

Possibly the most difficult part about being a preacher of the Gospel is that at least one of the listeners knows everything there is to know about you.  I think God plans it that way. The great equalizer for many preachers is that their spouse knows better.

It is easy; very easy to impress some crowds. Say the right things in the right way with your best preacher voice and you can wow the crowds. But when someone siting there knows the intimate secrets of who you really are, that is another story.

Preach about faith; she knows your doubts. Preach about prayer; she knows your prayer life. Preach about integrity; and she may smirk (inside).

I think God plans it that way. To keep you humble…to stay real…God reminds you that, no matter what you say, one other person there besides you and Him knows your bathroom habits.

I think the toughest part of being a preacher is that my wife sits there, amening me, nodding her head and being supportive, but knowing full well all my flaws. And still she graciously receives the Word. Quite humbling, I must say!  And good for us preacher-types, lest our arrogance get the best of us. Without these humbling realities, our heads would probably explode with pride. The way it is, it’s sometimes difficult to hold your head up while preaching when she’s in the crowd.

I’m thankful for grace from God and from my wife.

By the way, any preacher who won’t admit to this is either a liar or more spiritual than I am (which isn’t always saying much).


Why It’s Good to be the Minority Sometimes

539244_836055790996_937900356_n

When you are the only one in the crowd who looks like you and talks like you, it’s a strange feeling. But it’s a valuable experience for us know what it is like to be really different from everyone else.

This happens occasionally on missions trip. I have had a few experiences where I was alone in a foreign country; I didn’t speak the language and I couldn’t read the signs. This happened to me both in Haiti and in Indonesia. Talk about feeling vulnerable! I tried to make myself as unnoticeable as possible. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. No eye contact, look confident and brave, try to look tough so as to discourage any would-be thugs looking for an easy mark. And once those experiences were over, it was a huge relief to get back with a more familiar crowd – where I was like everyone else.

The picture above is my 2 year-old granddaughter, Sophia. She is being raised in Central America where her parents direct an orphanage (casashalom.net).  She is the only white child among 70. Blonde hair and blues eyes really stand out. If her family remains there, she will be raised as a member of the minority culture. While she will certainly face challenges because of this, she will grow up with a unique perspective on life.

The more of a minority you are, the more you feel out of place. Well, you are out of place – that’s the point! Stuff happens in your heart when it is painfully obvious that you are not like everyone else.

I think that there is tremendous value in, from time to time, being in the minority:

  • You learn compassion and empathy for people who live this way. Many people spend their entire lives as a minority. They can never truly relax. They are always being profiled. Now you know a little bit about how they feel – there is value in that.
  • You increase your awareness of and sensitivity to the culture around you. You watch others and try to behave as they do. Becoming a part of the people takes top priority. This is a valuable skill for missionaries.  The Apostle Paul discusses this in I Corinthians 9:19-23.
  • You walk carefully, not wanting to offend someone or create a cultural faux pas. One unintentionally rude mannerism can get you into big trouble.  You grow in your ability to relate to other cultures.
  • Your vulnerability keeps your ego in check. It’s hard to be arrogant when everyone thinks you are strange.
  • You learn to appreciate your familiar surroundings. Once you get back home, you can feel the security of your safe zone, and it feels nice.

I believe this also relates to our lives as Christ-followers on this earth. The Bible tells us that we are aliens; we are not citizens of this world (John 17:14, Philippians 3:20, I Peter 2:11).  We must remember that we are out of place here. Let’s not get too comfortable. Let’s not let down our guard. Let’s walk carefully. Remember, we are the minority.

Go for it. Take a trip or put yourself in a situation where you are the one who is different. Be deliberate about it. I think it will change your perspective.


don’t forget the most important stuff

A few weeks ago, we were headed to a conference for the purpose of giving exposure to our missions work. When we arrived at the airport, we realized we had left all of our presentation materials back at home. I had to go back home to get them, and I ended up flying standby. Otherwise, we would have been without the most important stuff – the very reason for our trip.
Warren Bennis, leadership guru says, “I’ve never seen anyone derailed from top leadership because of a lack of business literacy or conceptual skills: it’s always because of lapses of judgment and questions about character. Always.
It seems to me that there is a sufficient amount of emphasis on skills development and strategy engagement among leaders. Bennis is right – know-how is not the problem when someone fails.  The problem almost always is, leaders lose their bearings.  They have a moral lapse. They fail and fall.
I see four key reasons why leaders are prone to omit issues of character and integrity:
·      Forgetting what brought success. Honesty and integrity are not very glamorous foundations, but must be maintained in order to prevent moral failure.
·      Corruption from outside sources. Unscrupulous characters will be attracted to success. Know who they are and avoid them!
·      Arrogance of success. Pride is the greatest enemy of leaders. Stay humble; stay on track.
·      Too busy to pay attention to details. Never become so preoccupied with leading that you forget to focus on small, important, moment-by-moment decisions.
Leaders (and followers) don’t forget the most important thing – your character.

Is Albert Pujols being punished?

Proverbs 1:19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (NLT)

There is a very intriguing sports story that is going on right now and it strikes close to my heart.

If you know me at all, you are aware of my affinity for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. Having been born and raised in St. Louis, I have spent my life watching and cheering for them. While I do not consider myself a fanatic and my life does not rise and fall with their record, I do have a sizable collection of autographed memorabilia.  And you’d better believe I was happy last October when they won the World Series for the eleventh time.

The hot story in baseball right now surrounds Albert Pujols. He spent eleven glorious years playing in St. Louis, the greatest baseball town in the country. Albert put up certain Hall of Fame numbers and was arguably one of the greatest players of all time. The city idolized him – probably to a fault.

Then contract time came around. Albert refused the offers that the Cardinals gave to him. Their offer was in the 200 million dollar arena. Albert “needed” more.  He departed St. Louis for the Anaheim Angels and received about 240 million! He walked away from a fiercely loyal fan base. Seriously, unless you have personally experienced baseball at Busch Stadium, you can’t imagine the atmosphere. It is way deeper than sports. For Cardinals fans, it is a way of life.

Albert rejected the city that had been faithful to him and had supported him. He sold out for more money. I truly believe that had Albert stayed with the Birds, he would have gone down in history as the favorite player of all time. This is saying a lot considering guys like Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith and Rogers Hornsby played there.

Albert is slumping, badly. 7 weeks into the season, Albert has no home runs, 4 RBI (no RBI in 2 weeks) and is sporting a .217 average. This is a lifetime .300 hitter, 30 HRs and 100 RBI, no doubt.

Many St. Louis fans are very happy with his demise. They want him to fail. They are laughing at him. I think that is vindictive. True, Albert was “all talk” regarding his love for the city and his desire to remain there his entire career. And he wasn’t honest in his dealing with the public. But it does no one any good to be mean about it. I wish I were above all feelings of “that’s what you get”. I’ll have to work on that.

Albert is a man of faith. I have heard his testimony and it sounds legit. But people of faith have a higher standard to which they are held. The standard is the Scripture. Loyalty, humility and and generosity are among the major themes.

I wonder about greed. I had a personal discussion with another professional athlete on the topic who was very defensive of Albert. “He’s the best ever, he deserves it” was his position. I disagree. I do agree that he HAS been among the best but he does not, nor does ANYONE deserve over 200 million dollars to play ball. My assessment, for what it is worth is: Albert is greedy.

Is Albert being punished because he is greedy? I have no way of knowing that. If so, maybe he can patch things up and give away 239 million and have plenty left on which to live. Possibly he can apologize to the people of St. Louis. If not, maybe he will just play his way through this slump.

Either way, his lack of performance does not change my life one way or another. But just maybe I can take notes on what happens to a person who is greedy for money.

When yet another reported asked him today about his homerless streak, his response was, “I don’t think about that, man.” Albert – it’s time to think about it.

Anyone want to purchase an authentic Albert Pujols autographed baseball?