Wednesday, April 02, 2014

How God Develops Humility In Our Lives

You can read Part 1 of this blog post HERE.

I almost split a church in half! It was early in the 1980's and I was a young man wanting to make a name for myself. In high school, I was elected Class President my senior year; I was a football and wrestling captain, and the world was all about me, or so I thought. Once I became a Christian, I looked around the church and realized the Senior Pastor was the one people looked up to, the one who made the important decisions and gave the vision for people to follow. I quickly decided I would one day be a Senior Pastor so I could regain my position of importance. The Senior Pastor at that time was a gracious man who gave me many opportunities to learn and grow in my faith. He asked me to give the talk at a few church meetings and people really liked my energy, presentation abilities and insights. My head began to swell.

A few people whispered in my ear that they wished I would give the 'sermon' more often. Some whispered that I should speak every Sunday morning, which indicated a sort of coup. My head swelled even further and I started believing the hype a few were whispering to me. I began believing in my abilities. I was in a dangerous place!

What do we do when we begin to believe we are larger than life, more important than the next guy or that our situations are so unique or intense that no one else could understand? The above situation in my life presented an opportunity for me to learn humility or to fall backwards into myself (narcissism). God then used a hammer to get my attention. I was seated in an auditorium with a few hundred other leaders and the presenter taught a simple principle of deflecting praise to those who give you opportunities to learn and gain experience. The presenter said some in this room needed to learn this lesson of gratitude and humility right then. At that point, God gently yet firmly touched my heart, and I knew what I needed to do.

I was attending this conference with the Senior Pastor of our church, so at the break I acted immediately on God’s conviction. I told him what had been happening in my heart, and how very close I was to receiving and believing the lie that I deserved more recognition. I sought his forgiveness and received it. I also confessed my pride to the elders and the whole congregation later that week. This was the beginning of learning valuable lessons of humility in my life. 

I am still learning.

Humility is a foundational character trait all Christians would do well to be aware of and develop as early in their faith as possible. Learning humility teaches us to be sensitive to the lessons taught by the Holy Spirit. The Lord exalts the humble (Ps. 113:1). The Holy Spirit deeply desires to protect us from destroying ourselves (removing prideful tendencies) and gives us opportunities throughout our life to learn the ongoing lesson of humility. Proverbs 11:2 instructs us that pride brings dishonor but humility gives us wisdom. When the Holy Spirit leads you to deal with areas of pride in your life, know that He desires you to learn the lessons of wisdom that will guide you towards maturity.

Humility is the removing of self (getting a proper perspective of life) so that Christ becomes more in our lives. We know this is right and we also know this is difficult. Humility is not ignoring who you are created to be with your gifts and influence, but giving recognition that these qualities flow through you and come from Christ. This is the lesson God began to instill in me many years ago. I want to say again that God knows we need this gateway character trait in our lives and He consistently presents opportunities in our lives to develop it.

A friend of mine recently went through some major relational turbulence. God was in process of pointing out a hardness of heart (pride) and my friend began to dig his heels in on the issue God was raising. His immediate response was to point a finger at the other person instead of looking at the impact of his own attitude and actions. Recognizing our own issues and weaknesses is always a struggle between our flesh versus the Spirit. It is always easier to justify ourselves than to look at where we are wrong. This issue is still in process, but pointing my friend to the principles of humility and submission to Christ has been crucial for him in moving through pride towards maturity. The Spirit is about the development of our souls. How will we respond? Responding with a demanding spirit for our own preservation never ends well and is certainly not attractive.

In my next post, we will discuss how to recognize the development of humility in our souls and how this blends beautifully with what a Spirit filled life looks like. I would also warmly invite your comments on the above thoughts.