A Slice of Humble Pie
Tim was proud of his latest project. His 30-foot tall flagpole stood proud with Old Glory flapping in the breeze. The Persian Gulf War stirred his patriotism and he wanted to display his support. Later that week a storm blew his flagpole over. Tim had failed to properly anchor the pole into the ground.
Simple logic tells us that tall objects need to be supported. The higher the object, the more support it needs. In fact, skyscrapers have anchors of concrete and steel that run in several directions. Some of these anchors are 30 feet thick and a quarter mile long. If a tall object is not properly anchored, it will fall over.
The same principle applies in the spiritual realm. We all realize the importance of being anchored in Christ. It keeps us from being blown over by the temptations and trials of this world. Although you may not have thought of it, being successful is another reason to be anchored. When a person becomes successful, he is like a tall building rising above its surroundings. The more a person is exalted, the more vulnerable he is to being knocked over. Remember that pride of his exalted state is what brought Lucifer down. This is the reason God warns us about putting a new Christian in a position of leadership.
There are two important things we can do to keep from being knocked over. First, we must make it a point to continually draw our strength and support from Christ. When we have our lifelines tied firmly to Christ, it is hard for us to be moved. Unfortunately many Christians, when they become successful, seem to spend less time drawing on the power of God. Instead, they tend to rely more on their own strength and abilities. The very time they need to be anchored the most becomes the time they are anchored the least.
The second thing we can do is make it a point to continually humble ourselves at the feet of Jesus. It is hard to knock a person over when he is already lying flat on the floor. The Bible has multiple warnings about pride and spends a great deal of time instructing us to be humble.
The less we apply these principles in our lives, the more need there is for God to provide us with supplemental support. He may give you a "thorn in the flesh" so you’ll have a continual reminder to draw close to Him. The apostle Paul’s "thorn in the flesh" was given to him to keep him from "becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations" given him (2 Cor 12:7). God knows our hearts and understands our limitations. He knows if we need supplemental support. Please understand not all calamities and health problems are "thorns in the flesh." Many problems in life are simply a result of living in an imperfect world.
Another thing God may do is give us a slice of what I call humble pie. This is usually an event that causes us to realize our lack of value outside of Christ. Sometimes it may be a humiliating experience or it may be a failure that is designed to get our attention and point us into the right direction. Humble pie comes in all shapes and forms. Any Christian who has been greatly used by God has eaten a least a slice or two of humble pie. Some had to eat several whole pies before God could use them.
He strutted up to the podium to deliver his message. Every step and movement was rehearsed to obtain the desired effect. George, like other seminary students, was required to practice speaking at various local churches. Unlike most of the other students studying to be a minister, George was proud, brash and felt he was God’s gift to the church. His parade to the podium was a reflection of his attitude. I don’t know what happened to him as he started to speak, but the sermon was a total disaster. Humiliated, he walked off the podium a very humbled person. Later, someone made the comment that if he would have walked onto the stage with the same humility as he walked off, the outcome may have been quite a bit different.
Maintaining our humility is something we all struggle with. Our old nature wants us to be the first and best. Even the disciples had trouble with this. In Luke 9:46, the disciples were arguing about who among them was the greatest. In Mark 10:35-45, James and John asked Jesus to give them very prominent positions in the new upcoming kingdom. Jesus told them that if they wanted to be great they had to be a servant. If they wanted to be first, they had to be slaves to all.
Someone once said, "After people are exposed to your ministry, are they left thinking more about you or about Jesus?" I personally feel the more we leave our name out of our Christian service, the less chance there is for us to take the credit and glory. It’s not that there is anything wrong with having organizations or buildings named after you, it just requires more stamina to resist the temptation of becoming proud. Henry Parsons Crowell was a very wealthy businessman who gave over 65% of his income to various Christian causes, including Moody Bible Institute. Although he was known for being generous, most people were unaware of the depth of his giving. The reason for this was his insistence of not receiving the credit. He felt it was God’s money in the first place and he was only being a steward of it. He would not even allow buildings or organizations to be named after himself.
Everyone needs to feel important and successful. This is part of our nature. If we don’t receive our proper recognition, we feel like we have been shortchanged. We all have different personalities and aptitudes. Part of my makeup drives me to want to meet needs when I see them. If I see a problem, I try to find a solution. Every place I have been employed I have done this. Often, when I would see a need outside my realm of responsibility, I would develop a solution at home. Many of them have been implemented. It brings me great satisfaction to fix problems.
At one of my jobs, I created several projects on my own time and initiative. These projects were implemented company-wide. Since I did not present these projects in a high profile manner, most people, except for my close friends, were not aware I authored them. In the course of human events, I fell out of favor with the powers-to-be. Later on, to my amazement, the company newsletters started crediting other people for the projects I had developed on my own time.
At first I was outraged. I spent a great deal of time trying to determine my response. I dug out all of my correspondences that proved I had authored these projects. I made preparations to hire an attorney to help correct this misinformation. Then, I began to evaluate my motivation. Basically, I was jealous that someone else was getting credit for something I had done. When I began to think about this problem in light of eternity, I asked myself, "So what? What difference does it make if others don’t know I authored these projects? God knows the truth and His opinion is the only one that matters." I wasn’t being denied money, just recognition.
I realize that not everyone would handle this situation the same way I did. Some may say I was wrong for not "standing up for myself." Those who know me, though, know I am not afraid to stand up for myself or what I feel is right. Having worked as a Correction Officer in a prison has taught me a great deal about standing firm and not being pushed around. I have, however, learned to carefully select my battles. I only have "X" amount of energy and I don’t want to waste it on frivolous battles. In this situation, I choose not to waste my energy in a battle whose primary objective was to bring attention to myself.
As I mentioned earlier, everyone will eventually have to eat a slice or two of humble pie. I have, however, no desire to eat a whole pie if I don’t have to. I have found that the Christians who continually humble themselves at the feet of Jesus seldom need to be brought low through humiliation. Although we must all eat some humble pie, I’d rather fill myself with chocolate cream pie.
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