I find truth in what Tim Hansel says about Christians living out our beliefs, He says, “We must take our Theology and make it our Biography.” Through this column, we’ll embark on a journey to do just that in 2012.
Last year, I read many books. However, one book and several of its reminders really stuck in my mind. The book is “Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk” by Randy Harris, who teaches at Abilene Christian University. Randy is part preacher, part stand-up comedian, part professor, part mentor, but wholly dedicated to serving God as a single Christian man.
He is part of an accountability group. As a group, they also have goals, one being when any of them enters a room that they see themselves as the least in the room. Whether they are the author with the most books, the scholar with the most credentials, or the preacher who has the highest salary, they long to heed the calling of Christ to be the least.
What do you typically think about when you enter a room where there is one person or several people gathered? Do you think about the enjoyment you will get in their company? Alternatively, do you think how much fun others will have being around you? Maybe you are concerned that your attire matches the occasion. Maybe you have a few cute or fun stories you want to tell, real attention-getters. Or maybe it’s a group of people where you can shine, network, and get a payoff from the contacts in the room.
How many of us typically walk into a room and ask ourselves, “Who may I serve in this room?” Harris’ practices, guidance, and thoughts challenged me. These words define humility: humbleness, unpretentiousness, modesty, self-effacement. Self-effacement means looking at other’s needs before considering your own, much like the mother who sees one piece of pie left and declares she never liked pie anyway. Rick Warren said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.”
Harris’ gives advice, lifted from the mid-1600s consisting of nineteen rules, Christian disciplines that help his readers develop humility. Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) was a cleric in the Church of England, who remains best known for his devotional works: “The Rules for Holy Living” and “The Rules for Holy Dying.” Among free spirits, rules are often snubbed as being out of fashion. However, we all live under rules. Try running red lights and stop signs and see how free you’ll be.
Everyone has a personal rulebook. As a Christian matures, his or her list develops and governs their lives such as, always pray before meals, attend worship on Sundays, and meet at other times through the week with Christians. We have other rules we make to increase the order and harmony in our lives: make your bed every day, never let your gas tank get below one quarter, etc.
A quest for humility opposes the quest for more power, more money, and more status. When we seek humility, that’s when we say to God, “Put me to work wherever you will.” One might serve breakfast to the homeless at the House of Prayer in Conroe, Texas, one might preach for 30 to thousands, or one might tuck three children in bed at night. James said, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (4:10).
In this column through the next twelve months, our focus will be on humility. Each week, a scripture tagged “Hunger for Humility” will guide us. Again, I encourage you to write them in a notebook or on index cards and keep them near, so you can memorize and reflect on them. Every three weeks or so, we’ll discuss one of Jeremy Taylor’s nineteen rules for living humbly (I’ll introduce the first one next week). Randy Harris said he wrote the chapter on Jeremy Taylor’s nineteen rules because he’s “brilliant at looking inside of us and catching us.” So was Jesus. With the help of Jesus, nineteen tried rules, and scripture, we may ring in the year 2013 as more humble people. Although you realize, it will not be anything to brag about.
Hunger for Humility (1): “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
You may contact Cathy at writecat at consolidated dot net