Six GROWTH practices: Go, Read, Obey, Witness, Trust, Humble Yourself
Humble Yourself Through Discipline
During the Pandemic, I would drive by a house that had a yard announcing, “I Am A Health Care Hero.” What an odd thing to boast about. Real heroes don’t brag. Certainly, front-line health providers were heroes, especially in the earlier stages of caring for Covid patients. But it’s like combat veterans whose bravery was recognized by a medal, like the Silver Star or the Medal of Honor. Many awardees discuss how uncomfortable they are for being singled out among others who fought in the same situation. Most put their medals away rather than brag about them.
So it is with humility. Humble people don’t go around bragging about how humble they are. That’s a fundamental contradiction. True humility is not something you can accomplish on your own. It is an attitude that comes from within. What you can do is work on keeping yourself humble. You can choose a discipline for that purpose.
Mother Theresa did not seek fame. It found her when American Malcolm Muggeridge discovered her and her ministry during a personal spiritual journey of his own. He featured her in his 1969 documentary Something Beautiful for God. She was always uncomfortable with the attention, which included being awarded the Nobel Prize. True saints are quite content to live in humble obscurity. It is up to others to exalt them for the purpose of inspiring others.
For Christians, the fundamental motivation is explained to the Philippians by Paul with his encouragement to imitate Christ’s humility. Jesus “gave up His equality with God and took on the lowly nature as a human. Being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death.” We do know that such humility was a struggle for Jesus because he prayed to his Father to lift the burden of dying to redeem humans. Once this task was done God exalted him to the highest place.
Jesus never exalted himself in his ministry. It was not within him to brag. He came to serve others, to lower himself, to be humble. Lowering himself was his basic Spirit-given motivation. In comparison to the bragging Pharisee, Jesus commended the tax collector who humbly asked for mercy.
The Amish describe themselves as being simple or plain. They are a community that stresses humility and resists drawing attention to individuals. That’s why they all dress in the same simple clothing that has stayed the same for two centuries. Anyone who visits an Amish community quickly learns that they don’t want anyone to photograph them. Tourists are drawn to the novelty of their reliance on horse and carriage and resistance to electrical power. Those who see them as a tourist attraction, however, miss the main point for their unusual lifestyle. They choose to live “simple” in a community committed to the spiritual discipline of humility.
Theirs is but one option to humble yourself with discipline. In his widely read Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster describes the discipline of simplicity in the way believers use our money. To follow Christ means to receive material provision gratefully, and to use money without abusing it. We are called to live with modesty and temperance in all things. This discipline means giving joyfully and generously to meet the needs of others.
My first congregation was named Brauer Lutheran Church. A hardware wholesaler, Mr. Brauer donated the dollars to establish this church in downtown St. Louis, apparently in exchange for naming rights. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. In my present church, a donor gave a million dollars and insisted on remaining anonymous. That’s the right way to live out simplicity and humility in the use of the blessing of wealth.
Of course, the fundamental way to walk humbly before God is to repent daily. To repent is to renounce what we have accomplished on our own. It means to resist bragging about what we have like the Pharisee did when reminded God of how well he fasted and contributed. It was the tax collector who repented and knew he needed mercy. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Shari Wojslaw says
I recently volunteered to do some things at a church that were sorely needed. I worked behind the scenes because I did not want any recognition, The next thing I knew I was given a gift card from the Pastor who got it from the Board of Directors to pay me for helping out with the mess. I was told by the Pastor that I shouldn’t return it because the Board would feel bad. It is hard to be anonymous sometimes even in churches. It is hard to accept service
David Luecke says
Yes, But being humble doesn’t mean you cannot accept thanks. Service to others includes helping them show their appreciation.
James Lunsford says
Humility boils dow to how much virtues one has. A new book out called “Biblical Virtuosity” goes in great detail over the importance of virtue in Developing a more perfect Christian life. It is on Amazon and Kindle. It is based on second Peter, chapter one verses five through nine. Virtue seems to be the missing element in the life of believers.
David Luecke says
I am hesitant to focus on virtue as if that is something we can accomplish on our own. My focus is on what the Spirit accomplishes in us with a change of motivation, especially with his gifts of joy, peace etc. We become more virtuous as the Spirit works his fruit.
Tom Sharpe says
Perhaps there is something in us that seeks significance. What we seek is what is missing. It seems God wants to steer us away from exalting ourselves. He doesn’t say it is bad when someone recognizes us. How does this relate to the Gospel?
David Luecke says
We do seek significance. Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee. The significance comes from our relation to God.
Ron Bostick says
Humility is a fine characteristic. In today’s culture it should be raised up. However, as Christians our humility can also prevent us to “boast” in what Christ has done for us.
David Luecke says
Humility before God prevents boasting but it shows in living a life of love, joy, peace.
Lori Sardiga says
I watched the Home Run Derby last night, a preliminary event to the World Series. As they interviewed the winner, Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, called himself the ’best long ball hitter in the league.’ And few could argue, this was his second year in a row winning the title. He is full of swagger and confidence along with the arrogance that one could expect of a player with his abilities. Even his opponent, Trey Mancini, voiced his admiration saying,” He’s hitting balls over 500 feet with ease. It didn’t seem like he got too tired and I got pretty gassed in that last bonus round.” An obvious difference in attitude; prideful/humbleness. However, if you knew the back story, true bragging rights belong to Mancini who 1 ½ years ago under went chemo for stage 3 colon cancer. Yet he still ranks among the best! Wow!
However, even Alonso knows there is no ‘I’ in team. He cannot win games on his own, it takes a team. Comparably, we too need to be part of a team because on our own we’ll never win the riches of heaven. Salvation and victory can only be found through Christ. Even before his crucifixion, Jesus humbly prayed for us,
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity”. John 17:20-23.
Notice Jesus, in humble submission, gave God the glory.
What matters is not about being or doing the best, but having the best-Jesus- he makes all the difference. So humbly we say, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31).
David Luecke says
Well said, Lori. One of the outcomes of our media world is that those who have something to say need to boast to get attention. I have done that with all my degrees and publications, and it makes me uncomfortable. But I am following a special calling to influence the thinking of church leaders. I have to boast of my credentials to be credible.
Lee Larsen says
I bring most of my comments back to PACK (Planned Acts of Christian Kindness). The free program makes it easy for Christians to go out into their communities and bring Jesus to life in the hearts of ALL people. We do not get to pick and choose. You find a busy location and you start giving or doing some prearranged act of kindness to everyone that the Holy Spirit sends your way. Rich or poor, black or white, young or old it makes no difference. For the hour or two that has been dedicated for this PACK event you are God’s servant. You serve with a sincere smile and a gladness in your heart for the priceless gifts the Lord has and continues to provide us with each day.
Your time, effort and investment are freely and joyfully given to all people because God loves them all and so we need to as well. When we unselfishly & humbly serve the Lord in this way He reveals Himself in many miraculous ways! Through unbelievable timing and powerful testimonies that come from those who you would least expect their is no doubt who is really in control. The Connect Card is a critical piece of the PACK experience as it gives all the glory to Jesus, the true source of these gifts as well as the reason for our joy, peace & hope! On the back we encourage the PACK doer to put an invite to their church/school/youth activity…., not to boast, but rather offer up a place where they can learn more about Jesus. When it comes to Jesus we need to boast, but in Him, not ourselves. To be that shining beacon on a hill for all to see and be drawn to.
David Luecke says
Drawing attention to your product is not boasting. Do you have any numbers of those who have requested your PACK material. It would add to your credibility. I don’t think that is boasting.