Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Humility and "The Game"

A few years ago, teenagers in our local schools played something they called “The Game.” Anyone still playing “The Game” is obviously behind the times. The rules of “The Game” are simple: Don’t think about “The Game.” If you think about “The Game,” you automatically lose and you have to announce: “I lost The Game.” What's supposed to have made the game funny is that when you do that, it makes everyone who hears you think about “The Game” and lose, too. As I started writing this thing, I thought about (and lost) “The Game.”

Humility is kind of like “The Game.” One of the frustrating things about humility is that even the most humble person struggles to remain humble if someone praises their humility. It’s hard to know how to take someone complimenting your humility. C. S. Lewis wrote that “one is never so proud as when striking a position of humility.” Authentic humility and striking a position of humility are two different things. Authentic humility never strikes a pose. It just is. And a sure-fire way to make someone lose it is to tell them that you admire their humility.

During the passing of the peace one recent Sunday morning, another staff member asked me to cover the invocation that morning. We rotate responsibility for enlisting people to lead in congregational prayer, and since it’s an every 5 weeks thing rather than a more predictable rotation, it’s easy to forget whose week it is. I am always more than happy to cover for anyone on staff if they drop the ball on getting a lay-member to lead those prayers because I drop the ball more often than anyone else does. I covered the prayer without sweating it (I AM a professional, after all) and I was proud of my eloquence about our need to be humble in the presence of God. Then the Holy Spirit convicted me that I didn’t have the humility that I had just prayed about.

Here’s what I wrote:
My prayer this morning was eloquent and I was proud of it. Extemporaneous – yes – but I found words that expressed thoughts of humility that my spirit immediately negated with pride in how I expressed them. And I’m even proud of the fact that I recognize what that pride means about my lack of humility. The humility of admitting that I lack true humility makes me proud.
Humility – if you think you have it … you don’t!
That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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