Obvious but invisible

Published 6:25 pm Thursday, April 26, 2018

Years ago, during the interviews of the finalists for the “Miss America” crown, Miss Arkansas chose the word “humility” to explain. To me, what she said was so profound that I copied it down and have kept it in my files. This is what she said, and I quote:

  “Every person has wonderful goals set for themselves in their lives — to be witty, to be ambitious, to be educated, to have responsibilities. But we always look up to someone who has humility. We admire and strive for it. Every girl should have it. Every man and woman should have it. Humility is the key to success. Though it is very obvious to others, it is invisible to those who possess it.”

Evidently, certain personal quarrels and rivalries were threatening the peace and unity of the Philippian Church. A few individuals were causing a great disturbance in the congregation by disruptive arguments and self-exaltation. So, Paul pleaded with his fellow believers to live in harmony with one another. He urged them to have the mind of Christ, “who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Philippians 2:6-7).” Paul presses these believers to a spirit of humility.

In a world that continually sends messages like the following: “we’re number one,” “demand your rights,” “anything goes to reach the top,” “promote yourself,” “my way or the highway,” “demolish the enemy,” — humility is a characteristic we can’t afford to lose. Let’s focus on it.

First, humility sees oneself realistically. Humility is not a groveling, self-despising spirit. As Max Lucado expresses  it, “The humble heart does not say, ‘I can’t do anything.’ But states, ‘I don’t do everything. I know my part and am happy to do it.’” No groveling there.

Personally, I think humility has to do with teamwork. It has to do with recognizing that we are part of a team whatever it is — marriage, family, business, sports, church, nation, everything. We are part of a team. We have a part to play, and we are happy to do it.

Second, humility refrains from tooting one’s own horn. I read about a pastor who was voted the most humble pastor in America. And the congregation gave him a medal that said, “To the most humble pastor in America.” Then they took it away from him on Sunday because he wore it. Isn’t it wonderful to meet up with truly well-known people who don’t read their own press clippings.

Jesus was hitting on this when he gave warning not to sit at “the reserved table” for special guests at dinner parties. He warned that if any of us sit too high we’ll be brought low. Humility refrains from tooting one’s own horn.