Can you name an organization…a place…an institution in America today in which humility is an intentional state of existence? Those of “humble means” do not count. One could argue that it’s easier to be humble when times are thin rather than thick. Instead, where are the people who, in spite of great resource and ability, intentionally embrace a humble disposition?
I’m certain they exist…they’re just difficult to find. Athletes beat their chest when they cross the goal line or dunk on an opponent. Politicians claim intelligence and ability greater than their constituents could ever possess and celebrities grace the public long enough to be photographed. To be fair, there are many who struggle to find humility in the American church as well.
There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. There is a story in the Old Testament about a showdown between a man names Elijah and a crowd of other prophets. The story goes that Elijah challenges the other prophets to have their god consume by fire the sacrifice of an animal. When it doesn’t happen, Elijah encourages them to pray more and shout louder. When nothing happened, Elijah asked that the people help him water down the sacrifice that he was going to ask his god to consume. The story goes that they watered it down three times, so much so that it filled the ditch around the sacrifice.
All of that sounds to me like bravado…at least until I read the next sentence in the story. Elijah prayed concerning his efforts that the people would know that “you are God in Israel and I am your servant”. Spoiler alert: Fire does fall and the sacrifice is consumed.
Consider for a moment what would have happened if nothing happened at all? Could humility be present in circumstances in spite of result? What is the key to employing humility in our lives?
I believe that it is position. Elijah states, “You are God…and I’m not”. That’s not a statement of defeat, surrender, manipulation, or you fill in the blank. For Elijah, that is a statement of position. Elijah is willing to be second…possibly even thankful for such a position.
Are you willing to be second? How would your life be different if you were willing to do so?