8 Steps Toward Humility

11 May

There is a story of a parishioner of a church who received recognition for being the humblest man in the church. They gave him a pin to wear. The following Sunday he wore it and they took it away from him for being proud.

Humility is such an elusive thing… once we think we have it, we have lost it.  To even write or speak about it is tricky, because if you do, you must immediately establish that you are by no means an expert but are just on the journey.  I have noticed recently that God has been speaking to me  and a number of leaders and friends around me about humility.  It just seems that God wants to remind us about the importance of humility.  The interesting thing about humility is that throughout the Bible we don’t see that we are encouraged to pray for it, but rather we are instructed to “humble ourselves” – which indicates that humility is an intentional, practical, active decision that we consciously and consistently make.

In 2 Chronicles God says that us humbling ourselves is an important prerequisite to forgiveness, healing, and restoration (7:14).  James 4 and 1 Peter 5 both point us back to Proverbs 3, reminding us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” as well as encouraging us to, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Colossians 3 reminds us to “clothe ourselves in humility”, and perhaps the most radical idea shows up in Philippians 2 when Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

The thing that has always stood out to me is that pride – which is the obvious opposite of humility – is the only that scripture says the God opposes.  I know too often I read past that part quickly without adequately picturing it.  If God opposes the proud, then the picture is God standing against and pushing back against those of us who have allowed pride to go unnoticed and unchecked.  I know that I never want to be on the other end of God’s opposition, and if I allow pride to remain in me, that’s exactly where I’ll end up.  The irony is, when most of us read that, we don’t think it applies to us.  One of pride’s tricks is to lead us to believe that we don’t have pride. But it is pride that keeps us from changing, it is pride that we convince ourselves that we can handle a certain amount of sin in our lives without ever dealing with it.  Pride is what keeps us from being authentic.

I recently read a tweet that said, “Humility isn’t making less of yourself, but more of God and other people.”  So for those of you who are looking for a little more humility in your life – as I am – here are a few practical tools…

8 Ways to Humble Yourself

“There is no room for God in him who is full of himself.”

1. Look for the best in people. Everyone has had some experience you haven’t and is your superior in that respect. Albert Einstein, who is largely regarded as one of the greatest minds ever, said, “I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”

2. Be quick to admit your mistakes. It’s been said that the hardest words to say in any language are “I was wrong.” Those who refuse to do so out of pride are likely to keep making the same mistakes and alienate people in the process.

3. Be the first to apologize. If “I was wrong” are the hardest words to say, “I’m sorry” have to be the next hardest. It will kill your pride, as well as the argument—two evil birds with one small stone of humility.

4. Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad! Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.

5. Receive correction and feedback from others graciously. In the Phoenix area, a local East valley pastor was noted for graciously receiving any negative feedback or correction offered. He would simply say “thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it and get back to you.” Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”

6. Purposely associate with people of lower state than you. Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.

 7. Serve others. When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of self.  Volunteer to help the elderly, the infirm, or children, or do some other form of community service. You’ll gain more than you give, both in humility and loving thanks.

8. Give God the credit for anything good about you and anything good that He helps you do. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord!”

The Genesis of Relationships

25 Mar

If you know me, you know that I am passionate about seeing relationships (of the romantic type) being done right.  I believe that for those interested, God has a lot to say in this area.  Consequently, this is the one area that seems to be the biggest challenge area for so many – even for the “best of Christians”.  I was recently reading through Genesis and something jumped off the page as I looked at Chapter 2 through the lens of relationships.  I noticed a progression of how God established certain things with Adam and in a certain order.  I then realized that I believe this is a solid template – or at least reference point when considering entering into a relationship.  I have taught this twice with loads of feedback, and I believe it is probably one of my Top 5 teachings.  So, I have pasted the notes below for you to see for yourself.  I would like to preface one thing… I am not typically a 5-step or 12-step guy, but I believe Genesis Chapter 2 outlines a natural and an intentional progression.  Enjoy… Or not.

The Genesis of Relationships

 

Genesis 2:7-22

7 the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

9 And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.

14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. 
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said, 
“This is now bone of my bones 
and flesh of my flesh; 
she shall be called ‘woman,’ 
for she was taken out of man.”

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

 

Here we see a picture and a model – from the beginning – of God’s design & desire for relationships.

  1. God creates man – and establishes a relationship with him.
    1. 7 the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
    2. We see later they walked in the garden, & talked too.
      1. V. 16 & 17
    3. This is where your identity is established
    4. The man is whole
    5. The man is full
    6. The man is fulfilled
    7. The man is satisfied
  2. God prepares a place for the man
    1. 8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
  3. God gives man a purpose and a mission
    1. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
      1. This is where we find significance – when he gives us our purpose.
      2. This purpose is found through our relationship with Him.
      3. Everyone is looking for purpose
  4. God coaches man on how to be successful (by His standard)
    1. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
    2. God’s instruction is always about our success where He has planted us.
      1. The closer we are to God, the more we are like Him, the less instruction God needs to give us.
        1. My 1-year-old daughter needs all kinds of guidance & instruction.
        2. The younger and less mature are the ones who need the most direction & instruction.
  5. God creates (hand-picks) a suitable helper for the man to accomplish his mission & purpose
    1. 18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
    2. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,
      1. Notice that God custom-made the woman to be a perfect fit for the man.
        1. She was uniquely designed to be a suitable helper.
        2. What was she suited to help with? His mission!
  6. God BRINGS her to him.
    1. 23 and he brought her to the man.
    2. Women were made to be pursued, they love being pursued.
      1. How you know how to be pursued is discovered as God pursues you and establishes His relationship with you, and that man will eerily resemble the way God pursued you.
        1. You have to have tasted God’s love so many times that when your suitable helper crosses your path – as you are pursuing your mission & living your purpose – that it smells & tastes & looks & feels just like the way God does it.
          1. Most ppl know Twizzlers blindfolded b/c they’ve “tasted” it so many times.
    3. Men were meant to pursue
      1. We learn this – which goes along with God establishing us as His definition of a man – as we learn and discover God’s love for us.  He shows us how the love of a Father really goes.
    4. God brings her to him as man is engaged in living out the purpose that God had already established.  He wasn’t distracted by looking for the woman.  He wasn’t just punching a time card until he got married.  He didn’t know anything else was coming & nothing was missing.
  7. They come together in marriage – a lifetime commitment to each other.
    1. 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
      1. God’s desire for relationships is for them to lead to and end in marriage, which is intended to be the ultimate picture of His unending commitment to us.
      2. Throughout scripture, we are referred to as Jesus’ Bride
    2. Marriage isn’t the end result, it’s the beginning of a process.
      1. We can’t view marriage as a destination, you will be greatly disappointed.
        1. Usually those who view marriage as a destination, don’t understand God’s process, order, & purpose for a relationship.
  8. God doesn’t leave the picture once they are united, he remains involved with them all their days.
    1. We can’t ever get away from #1, that’s when things start to fall apart.

Some Thoughts…

Relationships don’t go well when we get this out of order.

This process makes sense b/c most young people I have every been around, if I can track what God has been doing as a theme, it’s always establishing over, and over, and over, and over, “I LOVE YOU, B/C YOU ARE MINE, PERIOD.” before He talks about location, career, or suitable helper.

(Ironically, where does most of our spare thought, prayer & emotion go? #6)

I don’t know too many couples that you would say “I want their relationship” that didn’t begin the relationship by knowing who they were (identity) and their purpose (not career).  And the ones that make it that don’t start there – the ones with the rough patch you hear so often about – have to work out the earlier steps while dating or married and that is pressure and work God didn’t initially intend to be a part of marriage/relationships according to His design.

If you’re not confident that you hear the voice of God, I don’t know that getting in or being in a relationship is the best idea right now.

(Not that you get it right all the time, but you are pretty confident more of the time than not)

Reflection Questions

Are you confident God loves you?  Not “do you know”, but “are you confident?”

(Do you live there on a consistent basis?)

How do you know He loves you?

(I feel secure, I don’t compare, and when I have those thoughts, I know what to do with them.)

Are you confident in your purpose/mission?

(Not career, but purpose. “I’m loved, and want others to know it as well.” then God puts specific people group, demographic, age group, career range to do that in.)

- girls that have been abused

- boys without fathers

- young kids

- families

- help churches get $$

- heart for businessmen

Your career will feed into your purpose, not visa versa.

WELCOME

24 Mar

After Contemplating & Deliberating for several months on whether or not I should start a Blog, I have decided (been convinced) that it is time to make it happen.  As with most people, I found myself not wanting to be bogged down with having to update it all the time.  Then there is the question, would anyone read it anyway?  Once I realized it didn’t have to be like that, I decided to jump in.  One of my life’s missions is to add value to people everywhere I go, so if THIS can be a part of THAT, then I’m down.

So here’s the deal… I will update as things happen or come to me.  As a communicator, I imagine some of the things I speak about will end up on this in some way.  And as with my Twitter account, my hope is that you find this either motivating, encouraging, inspirational, or challenging in some form or fashion.

So to those of you who find yourself journeying life with me, I appreciate you allowing me to share my life with you, and I am as interested in you sharing your thoughts and life with me.

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