Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Humility or humiliation?

Have you ever been called on the carpet for boasting or self-aggrandizement? It's utterly humiliating.

I once passed along an effusive note of thanks that came to me but belonged to someone else. The person was away from the office so I left it on the admin's desk. Later, that person lambasted me for puffing up my accomplishments by  the note.

"You know our office did that work," s/he said. "Why did you think we'd want your 'thank you' for what we did? You're always trying to be noticed."

EEEEEEk! I felt like crawling away with embarrassment. What had just happened?

I quickly explained that the 'thank you' belonged to others. The note landed on my desk because of a personal connection to the writer in another context. Since the "thanks" didn't belong to me, I'd scribbled, "This is for you," across the envelope and passed it on. The person apologized and we shook hands.

What a contrast between humility and humiliation. Humiliation tears down. I felt shamed because of the assumption that I'd brag about a job well done (and not even my job at that.)

As I walked back to my office, I asked God about the nasty surprise. The meeting exposed an ugly thing, my apparent pride about doing good work. It also broke trust with someone I'd admired, yet who'd felt I would accept credit that was due elsewhere. What had that person heard or seen to make such an assumption?

I worked harder and tried to be wiser. My job involved public speaking and presence so I couldn't remain in the background even if I wanted to. Thereafter I remained guarded at the company and only passed along kudos face-to-face.

Unlike humiliation, humility rests on the foundation of God's sufficiency, his pleasure in how he made us, and his guidance to our vocations. Humility is the ongoing recognition that we––and others––are fallible and incomplete without God's help.

Humility acknowledges that we work for God rather than others. Whether we are praised or humiliated, Christian stewardship demands persistence and honing of skills so that our craft improves and is more and more useful where God employs us. The way we throw ourselves fully into the task at hand demonstrates our gratefulness for God's abundance in giving us a job and providing our needs.

Nearly all of us have a similar story to tell. How has God used humiliation to produce in you godly humility and wisdom?

Read more:
*I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. Psalm 63:4

*The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever. I rejoice in your word   like one who discovers a great treasure. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble." Psalm 119:160, 162, 165 NLT 

*I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. 1 Corinthians 14:15

Moravian Prayer: Father, we pray to you with our hearts, minds and spirits. Hear our prayers and lead us as we share your story with those around us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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