Don’t Get Drunk on Power

large__12181690795

Power is intoxicating. This is just a fancy way of saying it makes us lose our heads. We gain power and we get stupid. It gets into our blood stream and affects our thinking and our actions.

Likely you don’t think you have power. Think again. If you are parent you are a concentrated force of power. Teachers, coaches, and managers all wield significant power. Anyone in a position of authority does, but so too does anyone who is respected or looked up to. The salesman who can talk a negotiation into his favor and the pretty lady who can get her way with a bat of the eye lashes are both powerful. If you are richer, smarter, or more disciplined than others you have power. Really, only infants and the desperately poor lack any sort of notable power.

As Ben Parker once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He was right, but he missed something significant: with any power comes great temptation. As sinful people we constantly look to gain the approval of some at the expense of others. We look to climb over those we can to gain higher heights just to make ourselves feel better. We abuse the power we have.

We threaten our kids and yell at our kids to get them to obey. We intimidate and coerce those in our influence. We manipulate those we see as weaker. We treat people weaker than us in ways we would never dream of treating our equals. Basically we do things we wouldn’t ever do if we were in our right minds. Kind of like a drunk person.

We need to know our limits. How much power can we handle without getting tipsy? When over-do it, what kind of dumb choices are we prone to? It won’t be streaking, a regrettable tattoo, or bowing to the porcelain god with a wicked hangover. More likely it will mean someone is hurt badly. Power intoxication doesn’t leave cars wrapped around phone poles, but it will leave relationships in burning ruins.

We can’t always help what power we have, but we can handle it responsibly. We must know ourselves enough to know when to walk away or back down. Intoxication comes from abuse, from over-doing it. Know your limits. Be willing to say no thanks, even (especially) if it is just to yourself. The damage of power-drunkness is incalculable.

photo credit: pavlinajane via photopin cc

Is Your Humility Real?

unreal

Humility is a vital Christian virtue. Solomon, Peter, and James all agree: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34, 1 Pet. 5:5, James 4:6). While every single believer struggles against pride, the pursuit of humility is a key ingredient in maturity.

But humility can be misunderstood. There’s false humility, the “Oh, it was nothing…” that we use to actually elicit more praise. But there’s also a kind of “unreal” humility, a genuine but misguided attempt to pursue this virtue.

What does unreal humility look like?  No one I’ve read helps me understand it better than C.S. Lewis. In The Screwtape Letters Lewis inverts his own thoughts on humility and puts them in the words of Screwtape, a senior demon writing to his protégé Wormwood with advice on how to tempt Wormwood’s Christian “patient.” Listen to what Screwtape says about real and unreal humility:

By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy [God, in this context] wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbors…You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character…By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools…The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents – or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.

…[God’s] whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man’s mind off the subject of his own value altogether. He would rather the man thought himself a great architect or a great poet and then forgot about it, then that he should spend much time and pains trying to think himself a bad one. Your efforts to instill either vainglory or false modesty into the patient will therefore be met from the Enemy’s side with the obvious reminder that a man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame.

Do you see how Lewis defines humility there? It’s not an exaggerated low opinion of one’s self, but self-forgetfulness coupled with awareness of others. Pride says, “I am Somebody (with a capital ‘S’) – look at me!” Unreal humility says, “I am nobody – look away from me.” But real humility simply says, “I am God’s – look at these people I can love!”

In the end, humility is simply living in light of reality. God is God, and I am not. But as a person made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ, I am a part –not an indispensable part, but a real part nonetheless – of God’s purposes. I don’t need to sort out my “own precise niche” in those purposes to throw myself into them with self-forgetting abandon. And that, Lewis says in another place, is exactly what real humility looks like:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him…He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. (Mere Christianity, 108)

May the Lord give us real humility!

Photo by viZZZual.com

The One Question That Creates Humility and Thankfulness

dance

What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7

Meditating on this truth goes a long way toward producing humility and thankfulness in us. All that we know about God we received as a gift, either from God or from others. Our knowledge of God comes primarily from Scripture. We didn’t write it or print it or distribute the Bible. God gave his word to Moses and Isaiah and Matthew and Paul, who wrote it down. Others distributed it, translated it, printed it. Eventually God’s word came to us. Maybe someone witnessed to us or we heard a preacher or someone gave us a Bible. But all we know of God is ultimately a gift from God and others.

Our talents, our ability to think, our eyes, ears, hands, fingers - all a gift from God. If you can read this you are using hundreds of blessings he has heaped on you. The other day I was racking my brain to try to remember something I hadn’t thought about for months. Suddenly it popped into my mind. Where in the world does memory come from? What a miracle. Our brain – a mass of flesh – can store immaterial information, then recall it. My 95 year old dad is in a personal care facility, highly medicated for pain and out of it
much of the time, will sing along if you start singing “Dancing Cheek to Cheek,” a song written by Irving Berlin in 1935, sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1935 movie Top Hat. How does that work? What a gift memory is. (And what a gift is Google, which I used to look up the song.)

Our incomes, jobs, our homes – all gifts from God. “But I worked hard to get my degree, applied myself, worked hard – that’s how I got where I am.” Who gave you your intelligence to study? Who gave you diligence? Who made the opportunities for you to advance? All you have is a gift.

All we have we were given. The country we were born in, the language we speak, the educational opportunities – we didn’t make
those for ourselves. Hey Mr. Proud Peacock, nice feathers you’re strutting around showing off. Who gave you those? Did you make them yourself?

What do you have that you did not receive? Think about this today. Turn it into thankfulness and humility before your generous King.

In Praise of Trash Talk and True Humility

What follows is a true and accurate account of every post-game interview ever given since the inception of time:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me about the game tonight. You guys pulled out the win. What were the keys to your success?

COACH / ATHLETE: Well, you know, we just did the right things at the right time. We executed, we made plays, we scored points. That’s what it really boils down to: scoring points and making plays. The guys really came together today. You know, nobody believed in us. All season long nobody believed in us. We made some belivers today.

INTERVIEWER: You had a great game today. You scored 55 points and had 13 rebounds. Why did you have such a great game?

COACH / ATHLETE: You know, I gotta give all the credit to my teammates. They got me the ball at the right time and made some great plays. You know, sometimes you’re just feeling it. I was able to execute tonight, but I got to thank God and thank my teammates first. I couldn’t do it without the other guys.

INTERVIEWER: Talk about your opponent. You beat them by sixty points. I mean, you totally obliterated those guys.

COACH / ATHLETE: Ah man, I’ve got tons of respect for those guys. They’re a quality team and they played a quality game tonight. They’re a great team with a great coach. We just got lucky tonight.

INTERVIEWER: In your next game you are favored by 103 points. In the game after that you go up against the number one team in the country. What’s your mindset right now?

COACH / ATHLETE: We’re just taking it one game at a time. We gotta prepare for our next opponent. We can’t look past our next game. I got tons of respect for our next opponent, and we really gotta prepare for them. We’re just giving 100%, one game at a time.

The above transcript has been repeated thousands of times by every coach and athlete who has ever played sports.

Except for Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman.

After he deflected the game-winning touchdown pass away from 49′ers receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman flipped out in his post-game interview, proclaiming himself the best corner in the game and proclaiming Crabtree to be a “sorry” receiver. Check out his crazy interview in the video clip below.

Sherman was promptly taken to task by the media for his rather unsportsmanlike words. Yesterday Sherman apologized for “attacking” Crabtree and for “deflecting” attention away from his teammates.

Personally, I found Sherman’s rant a bit refreshing.

Was it wrong for Sherman to insult Crabtree? Yes. Was it arrogant to proclaim himself the best corner in the game? Yep. Were his remarks unsportsmanlike? Yes. Do I want my kids imitating Sherman? No.

But in our age of bland, vanilla, politcally-correct, mind-numbingly boring, falsely humble, everybody is a winner, gold stars for everyone, post-game interviews, it was kind of nice to see someone finally say what they really thought. It was kind of nice to see someone give an honest assessment of themselves and their opponent.

As I think about this whole situation, I’m reminded of what Paul says in Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

True, God-honoring humility means thinking rightly about oneself. True humility means not thinking too highly of yourself AND not thinking too lowly of yourself. It means seeing yourself as God sees you. It means assessing your gifts and abilities and strengths with sober judgment.

I don’t want my daughters to think they can be whatever they want when they grow up. My oldest daughter, Charis, doesn’t seem to be particularly athletically inclined. She probably won’t play in the WNBA when she grows up, no matter how much she believes in herself. I suppose she could develop athletic skill later in life, but I’m not convinced it’s going to happen. She is, however, very creative. She builds wonderful Lego towers and creates mountains of drawings and paintings.

I want Charis to understand that God has given her particular strengths and has not given her other strengths. I want Charis to be able to evaluate her gifts soberly, with the proper judgment. I want the same thing for myself. I want to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses accurately. I think it would be accurate to say I’m a good writer. I’m not a great writer, like N.D. Wilson or Stephen King, but I’m good. It would be foolish and false humility to say I have no gifts whatsoever.

The way to grow in humility is by asking God to help us have sober judgment regarding our strengths and weaknesses. The way to help our kids grow in humility is by helping them accurately understand their God-given strengths and weaknesses.

We don’t need more trash talk. We do need more true, honest humility.

Don’t Be The Smartest Guy in the Room

 

I love being the smartest guy in the room, or at least thinking I am. It’s an ego thing. And of course that means it’s not a good thing. It’s not good to be the smartest guy, and it’s really not good to think I am. In fact, all my worst decisions in life have resulted from putting myself in this situation — thinking of myself as the smartest. It has never ended well.

That label “smartest guy” (or gal), whether it’s true or not, makes us vulnerable to our own weaknesses. When I think I am smarter than everyone else my respect for them almost automatically diminishes. I have made the valuation that I am above them, and this makes it easy to ignore their opinions and contributions.  Clearly any perspective but mine doesn’t matter. I become a council of one. And when this happens my weaknesses and blind spots are magnified because I have removed any checks and balances.

“Smartest” is a deceiving and nebulous term. It feels good to be called or to call ourselves, but it’s almost never true. We may be the most knowledgeable about a particular subject or the best at a particular activity, but we are never the best or most knowledgeable about everything. In any given room or on any given team there are people who have better insights, more knowledge, or greater skills than we do in different areas. To think of ourselves as “smartest” is patently false.

If we ever find ourselves “in a room” (a context) where we are the smartest, we should change it, and fast, either by helping others get smarter or by switching rooms. Which of these is the best solution depends on circumstance. When I’m with my two young daughters I’m probably smarter than they are (although the seven year old is giving me a run for my money), but my responsibility is to teach and share and help them discover so that they surpass me. But I also need to conscientiously listen to them; they have insights of their own that can correct and teach me, and if I am so content to be “smarter” I end up worse off.

If I find myself on a team at work on which no one is smarter than me I must do all I can to change that too. It could be assisting teammates to develop their skills and knowledge. Or it might mean that the team needs to change, either because I leave or others do. Much of this depends on circumstance, authority, and flexibility. But no matter what the situation cannot remain status quo.

To stay in a static situation where we are the smartest is asking for problems. No matter how smart any of us is, we will always still have weaknesses and blind spots, and the less resistance those around us put up — or that we accept — the more they grow and become problematic. In any context, no matter the intellect or giftedness of those around us, we shouldn’t resort exclusively to our own counsel. But we inevitably will if we think of ourselves as the smartest.

When My Hair Looks Like A Van Gogh Sunflower

A funny thing happened on the way to work last week.

I’m in a hurry to get out of the house so I fly through my regimen of shaving, showering, brushing my teeth.  I rub mousse into my hair, get dressed, and run downstairs.  Grab a package to mail, then shoot out the door.   On the way to work I stop by the UPS store, where I regularly mail packages, say hi to the young lady who always works there, and hand her my package.  She says “hi” as usual, takes my package, runs it up.  I pay her, then head toward the door.

When I get to the front door, I see my reflection in the glass, and my jaw drops.  “What in the world?” I gasp.  My hair is sticking out in 50 different directions.  I look like a van Gogh sunflower.  Like I sky-dived without a helmet then sprayed my hair.  Like Medusa – you know, the mythological lady who had snakes for hair.

I feel my hair.  It’s stiff and dry.  It won’t flatten.  In my haste to get out of the house quickly, I had moussed it but forgotten to comb it.  (Sign of Senility #136).

When I see myself I turn and ask the girl who took my package (there was no one else in the store), “Why didn’t you say something about my hair?”  She says, “I thought you might be going for something new.”  Like the deranged pastor look.  Like the I-just-escaped-from-the-institution look.  Like I was on my way to audition for the role of a zombie in World War Z look.

So I drive home, rewet my hair, comb it, then head to work, looking as cool and hip as a half bald guy can look.

This escapade reminded me of a truth I heard years ago – we all have “blind spots.”  Blind spots are things about ourselves we are unaware of or don’t perceive accurately.  Faults, weaknesses or areas of our lives we just can’t see.

A few years ago I spoke to one of my kids in the patient, loving way I always do, and he said, “Dad, you sound angry.”  “What?” I said.  “I’m not angry.  And I don’t sound like I’m angry.”  My wife chimed in – “You did sound kind of harsh.”  “Harsh?  I’m not being harsh!  I’m speaking completely gently and calmly.”  Then one of my older sons said, “Dad, you were harsh.”  Blind spot!

Because we all have blind spots, we need others to help us.  We need others to adjust us and point out areas we can’t see.

David said in Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it…

I need brothers and sisters who will correct me in love – at times “strike me.”  Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but I need to remember “it is a kindness” and “oil for my head.” 

But one of the problems with being corrected about blind spots is in our pride, we can refuse this correction – “let not my head refuse it.”  Pride makes us think we’re always right, that we perceive ourselves perfectly.  Pride makes us refuse loving input.  Pride makes us say, “Harsh?  I’m not speaking in a harsh way.  I’m speaking completely gently and calmly.”  Pride makes us think we know ourselves better than anyone else.  Pride – sin – is deceitful.

So here are a few tips:

  • Remember you have blind spots.  You don’t know where they are.  You aren’t aware of them.
  • Don’t be so sure you are right all the time – you might be wrong – just maybe.  (Obviously it would be extremely rare, right?)
  • When someone points something out, don’t be too quick to defend yourself or write them off – they might be right.
  • If someone criticizes you, they may have something legitimate to point out even if they correct you with a bad attitude.
  • If more than one person tells you the same thing, you should be doubly open to their observations.
  • If you just can’t see something someone has pointed out, thank them and tell them you will try to be more aware of it.  Thank them that they care enough about you to point out a weakness or sin.
  • Ask them to please mention it to you any time they see it.
  • Remember, no one knows themselves perfectly.  Only God does, and often he allows others to see our faults to humble and help us.

So please tell me if I ever show up and my hair looks like a van Gogh sunflower.  I might have forgotten to comb it.

 

How To Be A Weird Christian Without Being A WEIRD Christian

Being a Christian means being weird. I don’t mean dances with snakes weird, although Dances With Snakes could be a great movie, especially if it starred Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. No, I’m talking about true, holy weirdness. If we truly follow and obey Jesus, we will strike the world as being weird, odd, possibly even a bit unstable. After all, what “normal” person seeks to fight against sexual lust? What “normal” person wants to give away a significant portion of their income? What “normal” person forgives their enemies and does good to those who mistreat them? What “normal” person stakes all their hope on a dying and rising Messiah? Following Jesus means saying “no” to many of the things the world loves and considers normal. It often means offending others for the sake of obeying Jesus.

On top of the inherent worldly weirdness of Christianity, the gospel is inherently offensive. The gospel is an affront to our self-righteousness. It tells us that we are wicked, that God is holy, and that we cannot earn our way to God. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 it says:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

To those who don’t know God, the message of the gospel is folly. Insanity. Stupidity. Utter ridiculousness. It is a stumbling block to Jews, insanity to Muslims, and stupidity to Atheists.

Because following Jesus is “weird” and the message of the gospel is “folly”, we must take care that we do not add any additional stumbling blocks to the message of the gospel. We must take great pains to ensure that the only thing unbelievers stumble over is the gospel, and that the only offense is the offense of Jesus Christ himself. If an unbeliever comes to associate one of my preferences with the message of Jesus, I have created an additional stumbling block to the gospel.

Tim Keller says:

If some aspect of a new culture does not compromise the gospel itself and makes you more accessible to others, there is no reason not to adapt to that element out of courtesy and love – even if it is not your preference. Otherwise, the gospel may, because of you, appear “unnecessarily alien.” We must avoid turning off listeners because we are culturally offensive rather than the gospel…Proper contextualization [of the gospel] means causing the right scandal – the on the gospel poses to all sinners – and removing all unnecessary ones. (Center Church, 111)

What does this mean practically? It means we must make sure that we never turn the gospel into “Jesus + my preference”. Is classical homeschooling a good education option? Sure. But it’s not the gospel. Is it smart to think through different vaccination options? Yes. But vaccination is not the gospel. Are hymns valuable to sing in church? Yes. Not the gospel. Is organic living a healthy lifestyle option? Yeah. Not the gospel. Do Republicans (and Democrats) have some valuable ideas? Yep. Not the gospel. You get the point.

We must always be careful to distinguish between our preferences and the gospel. I never want someone to feel out of place at my church if they don’t homeschool, or eat a certain way, or hold to a particular set of non-Biblical political ideas. When an unbeliever comes into my church I know they will stumble over Jesus and the message of the gospel. I don’t want to add any additional stumbling blocks.

Have you added any stumbling blocks to the gospel?

Blessed Are Those Who Are Gentle

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

To be meek is to be gentle, humble, lowly.  ”The meek are the ‘gentle’…those who do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength, but who will nonetheless inherit the earth because they trust in God to direct the outcome of events.”  ESVSB

The first reason we should be meek is because Jesus is.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart  and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ  2 Corinthians 10:1

If God, the infinitely great and all-powerful one, is gentle and meek, how much more should we be!

Meekness shapes the way we relate to our Christian brothers and sisters

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

We’re not to fight and scrape, intimidate or pressure our brothers and sisters to get our way. Rather we should relate to one another with complete – “ALL” – humility and gentleness.

Meekness changes our speech

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4

The way to impart life is with a gentle tongue. Anger won’t produce God’s righteousness (James 1:20).  Anger may intimidate others to do what we want, but it won’t change their hearts.

Meekness affects the way we correct opponents 

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 2:24-25

We can’t persuade anyone by getting in their face. Yelling “murderer!” at a pro-choice person won’t win them to our side.  Calling someone who differs with you an idiot won’t persuade them you are right.  When we correct opponents, we must realize we can’t change them. Only God can grant repentance.  So all we need do is gently submit our correction then trust God to change their heart.

Meekness affects the way we treat people ensnared in sin

We’re tempted to judge those trapped in sin.  ”How could you possibly do that? I would never do that!”  But the Bible tells us we should restore sinners gently:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1

We are gentle when we help others who fall because we remember our own spiritual bankruptcy and sins.  Each of us is capable of any sin. Remembering this will go along way to helping us restore others gently.

The world says the assert yourself. Put yourself forward. Grab. Fight. The Bible says be meek and you will inherit the earth. When we inherit something we don’t work for it but receive it as a gift. God gives the meek everything they need.  Those who are meek find deep contentment and joy.

And someday we will inherit the new earth.

Blessed Are Those Who Realize Their Desperate Need

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

Earlier in his gospel, Matthew said Jesus went about everywhere proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, or rule, of God. Jesus was saying I have good news – the rule of God is here. Now. In me.

Now Jesus says blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven. In other words, if you are poor in spirit then my kingdom and all the blessings of my rule are yours.

The rule of Jesus brings incredible blessings – infinitely greater than this world’s blessings. The kingdom of God brings forgiveness of sins, friendship and fellowship with God, freedom from the power and guilt of sin, and the power of the Holy Spirit to please and enjoy God. The kingdom of God brings access to the throne of grace, God’s protection and provision and the wonderful promise that someday we’ll see Jesus’ face.

But everyone doesn’t automatically receive all this. We must be poor in spirit.  So what does that mean?

To be poor in spirit means we recognize we are spiritually bankrupt and need God’s help.

“Poverty of spirit, a consciousness of one’s emptiness and need, results from the work of the Holy Spirit within the human heart. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). It follows my being awakened to the fact that my very best performances are unacceptable (yea, an abomination) to the thrice Holy One. Thus one who is poor in spirit realizes that he is a hell-deserving sinner.” –AW Pink

In other words, to be poor in spirit means we realize we don’t deserve God’s kingdom. That apart from Jesus, we are spiritually impoverished and have nothing to offer God. We must receive God’s kingdom as a gift, never as something we’ve earned. This is the kind of attitude that attracts God’s attention.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

Look who this passage says God is – the one who is high and lifted up – infinitely exalted above his creation. He inhabits eternity – he has no beginning and no end. His name – his being – is infinitely, absolutely Holy. Yet this unimaginably glorious God dwells with “him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.” Contrite means genuinely sorry for sin. The high and holy one loves to be with those who realize they are spiritually empty and are truly remorseful for their sins.

This is “the opposite of that haughty, self-assertive, and self-sufficient disposition that the world so much admires and praises” AW Pink. The world says think highly of yourself.  The world says, “Thank you that I’m not like other men – sinners, losers – like that tax collector bowed down and beating his breast in the back of the church. God, you sure are lucky to have me.”

To this person God says, “No thanks. I’m going to the back of the church to welcome that guy who recognizes how much he needs my mercy and help. In fact I’m going to give him my whole kingdom.”

A Good Dose Of Self-Forgetfulness

Pride can act humble.

I can act as humble as Moses (“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth”  Numbers 12:3. Wait a minute, didn’t Moses write Numbers?  What’s up with that?)  Anyway, I can act meek as Moses while simultaneously being proud of how humble I am.

Don’t get me wrong – I really do want to be humble.  But true humility isn’t being preoccupied with whether you’re humble or not.  Did you ever get preoccupied with humility and pride? Someone commends you for your humility and you’re immediately tempted to be proud about it.  Here’s what we need – a good dose of self-forgetfulness.

As Tim Keller says in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness:

If we were to meet a truly humble person, (C.S.) Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. 

Genius!

How do we think of ourselves less? By being interested in others. “The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us.”

This is gospel-humility – counting others more significant than ourselves. Being genuinely interested in and concerned for others.  A good dose of self-forgetfulness.

Paul says we should “put on” compassion and love for our brothers and sisters. I’m not naturally emotional or compassionate. I’ve had to learn to put on compassion. All my life I looked to my own interests, but when Jesus saved me I had to learn to start looking to the interests of others.

To put on compassion means we try to enter into what someone is going through, try to imagine what it would be like to suffer what they’re suffering.  We can’t fully know another’s pain, but we can do our best to empathize.

But self-forgetfulness is more than sympathizing. It’s rejoicing with those who rejoice.  Celebrating God’s work in someone’s life. Being glad when others are blessed.  This is true humility.

And when we sincerely sympathize or celebrate with others we forget ourselves. And we’re truly humble.

So ask Jesus to help you think of yourself less and more of others today. Now, enough about you, what do you think about me?