The Power of Humility
The Modern Pilgrim #20- Pilgrim makes friends with a quiet traveler named Humblekind, an excellent listener, generally soft-spoken but surprisingly ferocious and victorious when the pilgrims are ambushed by Prideful and his pals, Arrogant, Boaster and Self-Pity.
Did you know that humility is a secret weapon for God-followers? In today’s “Look at me,” world, it can win over a hardened heart faster than social media memes. This worked repeatedly for Jesus. Humility prioritizes needs of others and God’s agenda more than its own desires. It’s never afraid to look Pride in the eye and say, “Knock it off.”
When I served as music minister, I sometimes received unloving criticism. Often, I didn’t receive it well. I considered my giftings to be superior to my critics. Although that was technically true, (Satan loves to use just enough truth to mess with you) a humble leader keeps an open heart. Not a door mat, but a door opened to hear other’s ideas. Not a weak-willed peacekeeper but a fervent peacemaker. Willing to lovingly confront ugly attitudes and navigate disagreements. Instead, I valued my hurt feelings more than my relationships. I didn’t recognize one of the many faces of pride.
Well, there’s nothing like getting your skirt stuck in your pantyhose in church, to burn up pride, though. When your ministry is an “on the platform,” one like music, teaching or preaching, it’s important to continuously humble yourself before God unless you prefer he uses alternate methods. He prioritizes the way his children treat one another more than our productivity. Remember, they’ll know we belong to him by our love. Pride hates all the work of that love.
Somewhere in the 80’s a very full style of skirt became popular. There was so much fabric, you could have a chunk of your hem stuck in your pantyhose and still feel no difference. Especially if you’re in a rush. One Sunday, running behind, I went directly from the restroom to the platform, no stops in between.
I quickly walked up the side aisle, pews filled with people, onto the stage. Thank Jesus, I passed by the worship band on the way. As I hustled past the drummer, I felt him grab the back of my skirt before I ran up to the platform. Confused, I turned around to see him mouthing, “Just go. You’re fine now.” Apparently, my procession down the side aisle disturbed a few people. Humbling.
Humility gets a bad rap in some circles because the word is misunderstood. Many make it a synonym with weak. Doormats. Pushovers. Godly humility looks nothing like that. Christ looked nothing like that.
There are many great stories of God humbling arrogant people in the Bible who refused to humble themselves like Samson, Saul, Jezebel, most of the kings of Israel, and many more. Plenty of cautionary tales. What about examples of humility? First, remember, our perfect example in every way, Jesus.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).
Jesus’ brand of humility puts other’s needs and God’s agenda before its own desires, to the point of death.
After Jesus, here’s some more people we can look to as examples:
- Abigail bowed before King David, during his violent reaction to her idiot husband’s refusal to feed David’s men. She saved her entire household. I Samuel 25:23
- The Apostle Paul- this guy had an amazing Jewish pedigree, but after he became a believer, he didn’t try to make hay on that anymore. “But things that were gain to me I now count as loss for Christ.” Philippians 3:4-6
- Joseph started out as an arrogant young man but by the time his brothers appeared before him as ruler in Egypt, he changed greatly showing them love and mercy and speaking eloquently about how God used his trials to save many. Genesis 50
- Moses is named “meekest man on earth,” in Numbers 12:3 and is another transformation story from impulsive to modest. He is an outstanding example of a servant leader in uncharted territory. There was nothing weak about Moses either.
- King Hezekiah’s transformation from proud to meek, saved his people from destruction. A humble leader can make or break an organization. 2 Chronicles 32:26-27
- The centurion with the paralyzed servant demonstrated great humility and faith in Jesus, who in turn, healed the servant. Matthew 8:5-13
- John the Baptist almost refused to baptize Jesus because he recognized Jesus and marveled that the Lord of Heavens would ask John to do the honors. Matthew 3. Because of John, people were able to receive Jesus’ public ministry. And, when you think about it, look what happened to John and his ministry after Jesus’ began? Did he complain and rail against Jesus? NO. Because he always understood his God given role and his position in the kingdom.
For me, when I lose track of who I am, and whose I am, I can slide into pride or it’s cousin, self-pity, who also thinks of itself more than others. Every example of humility I find in the word and in real life, demonstrates two characteristics:
- They understand their position in God and to God
- They are obedient and willing to do whatever it takes to connect with God and be part of what he is doing in their world
How will I behave today that shows with words and actions that I value others and God’s priorities more than my own dreams and goals? What does that look like for me? What does that look like you? That’s where humility lives, and Jesus is welcomed.