About ten years ago, I told the Lord that I wanted to be a writer and speaker. (Isn’t it funny how we tell God these kinds of things? As if He doesn’t know!) His not-quite-audible-but-very-clear reply was painfully simple: “You have too much pride.” That brief incident led me into an exploration of humility that would take a twelve-part blog series to unwrap!
Don’t worry. I’m not going to write it. The summary is this: Humility is a constant awareness of my position in relation to God Most High. If I speak or act confidently, it is because I know and trust Him, not because of who I am or what I have done. C.S. Lewis said it best: True humility is “not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.”
Scott Barry Kaufmann (found here) calls this type of attitude a “quiet ego.” He says, “A quiet ego is an indication of a healthy self-esteem—one that acknowledges one’s own limitations, doesn’t need to constantly resort to defensiveness whenever the ego is threatened, and yet has a firm sense of self-worth and value.” In Christian circles, humility has too long been synonymous with self-deprecation, with an “Aw shucks” head-hanging toe-scraping perspective on life, but Lewis, Kaufmann, and our very own Scriptures all paint a different picture in which humility is strong, assertive, even confident.
We have some excellent examples of this confident humility in the Scriptures. There are others (e.g. Esther, Amos), but let’s consider John the Baptist (Mk 1:4-8).
- He was not credentialed. No Bible college degree, no pastorates.
- He lived outdoors and ate bugs.
Yet people came from city and countryside to hear him.
- Mark calls him a messenger or herald of God.
- He identified with the ancient prophets—even dressing like them.
- He called out the religious leadership and declared everyone’s need for repentance.
Yet he always diverted the attention to Jesus.
Presently, I find myself sitting down to the writing banquet having entered through the kitchen door. (That’s my clumsy metaphor for blogging.) For years, I kept the blog anonymous because, even though God called me to start it, I still feared my own pride.
Then God gave me something bigger—something that wouldn’t fit on a blog post or even a series of posts. He gave me a Bible study to write, and I did it . . . eventually. Now I am backing my way into the public eye with trepidation, fully aware of the pride I’ve cast off and the pride that remains in me. I feel like I’m carrying this steaming dish into the same banquet using potholders and trying to avoid chair legs, rug corners, or anything else that might trip me on the way to the table.
Thankfully, I am not alone on this high wire of hesitation regarding humility. Look what two renowned Christian leaders wrote.
Not in us may men see the clay, but the Potter’s hand. They said of one, “He is a fine preacher;” but of another they said, “We never notice how he preaches, but we feel that God is great.”
(Quoted by Christian George in “Spurgeon Almost Quit”.)
Preaching “is a mixture of subjective pleasure, let us call it self-satisfaction, and objective gratitude . . . should one not rejoice at a full church, or that people are coming who had not come for years, and on the other hand, who dare analyse [sic.] this pleasure, and be quite certain that it is free from the seeds of darkness?”
(Quoted in Eric Metaxas, Bonheoffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, pg. 78.)
So I’m focusing on confident humility and sticking to verses like these:
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. –Psalm 115:1
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. –Luke 18:14b
I would love to hear if you’ve struggled with this or how you balance humility and confidence in your writing life. Please leave a comment below.
Carole Sparks has come recently to writing for publication, but she has long been an explorer of the world itself, of ideas, and especially of the Bible. Carole’s writing brings her readers into personal contact with the Jesus of the Bible—an experience which changes us all. Connect with Carole through her website, www.carolesparks.com, or check out her blog at www.notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.
Other Posts From This Series.
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