“It’s Hard to Be Humble When You’re As Great As I Am…”
Just like bad liars, it is easy to spot someone who is bad at being humble. Sometimes, they don’t even try. But when they do, they still throw in enough “I” and “me” into every conversation they give away their true intentions quickly. What is more difficult to identify, however, are those who are well-versed at seeming to have great humility and yet have instead learned to use humility as a tool to manipulate others or covertly bring glory to themselves. In an age of social media, this has become even easier to do. A well-placed status update, just the right blog post, a certain photo or comment can seem to convey humility and yet actually be a cleverly designed marketing tool learned from someone else’s well-placed blog post instructing the Average Joe to do just that to build a “following”, tweak a “reputation”, or just get people to “like” you (and by “like”, of course I am referring to the more important form of clicking on a small “like” button, not the actual I-LIKE-like-you old fashioned kind).
But let’s be honest, the most difficult of all types of false humility to detect is the one lurking inside of, well, me….or you. We all want to believe we are “good people”. Most people asked if they consider themselves “good” do say they are. I won’t even deal with the evidence of collective sin and evil in this post. Instead, I simply want to deal with the question of true humility. Serving in short-term missions as I do, leading teams, collecting donations from generous contributors, reaching out to impoverished communities and third-world locations, I am constantly faced with the struggle to define what we do, why we do it, and who really gets the credit for any seeming “goodness” that we may attempt to do.
Answering the question of WHAT we do may not be as simple as it sounds. In the past, short-term missions typically meant a group of eager Americans descended upon an unsuspecting people group for a week, dropped a bunch of “stuff” in their laps, maybe entertained their kids for a few hours, then hopped on a plane back to the comforts of home. But this picture is changing. While leaders of STM trips have attempted to become wiser and more effective and educated about truly forming partnerships with those whom they are serving, it has also made the definition of WHAT we do more complicated. But complicated is OK. And for me, I would prefer an ever-shifting definition that grows and matures as we learn more about true servant-hearted missions and seek holistic and long-term answers to replace our former simple solutions.
Understanding the true motives of others may be complicated and tricky, but the truth is understanding the motives of your own heart can actually be equally challenging. We think we know WHY we do what we do and are quick to judge the motives of others, but for me trying to allow God to dig deep into my heart and expose hidden motives and agendas is often frustrating, surprising and at the same time inspiring. Not inspiring because I was always doing it right, but because the realization that I was so often hiding behind my own false humility freed me to discover what true humility actually looks like.
Ephesians 2 says that our good works actually say nothing about us, they instead reveal the glory of God. That is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. You mean that I am not a good person because I travel to poor countries and give them stuff? I am not a good person because I “liked” a status on a person’s page that I actually don’t like but did it anyway as an act of sacrificial support? I am not a good person because I “blessed your heart” and pretended to be interested in what you had to say even though I was actually going over my Wal-Mart list in my head while you were talking? The truth is, we as humans judge on outward appearance and yet only God sees into the depths of our complicated and intricate hearts. Of course there is goodness in there, too, but here is the secret. It is a MIRACLE that being born in sin, living in an often dark and fallen world, surrounded by destruction, disease and death, that there is any good in us AT ALL! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can take credit for, brag about, or even secretly think we accomplished while pretending to be humble on the outside. Everything, completely and absolutely everything, that is good and decent and honorable and just and lovely and worth anything in this world is because God found a willing vessel somewhere, anywhere, who may or may not have even realized it was God working through them to bring light into a dark world.
So pause before you post that next status update. Think before you share that next story. Question your heart before you open your mouth to speak. I literally just deleted the next line of this post….because I questioned my own motives for writing it first; then had to admit to myself I wasn’t actually sharing it of a humble heart. That’s the right place to start. Hello, my name is Dawn…..and I am a Pride-aholic. (If you just caught yourself feeling a little smug at those words, you just might be a Pride-aholic, too.)
I leave you with this image…we entered a very humble home to deliver donations to a family living in the ghetto community in great need. Their young son, Sami, who is special needs and probably Downs Syndrome, immediately ushered us to the couches and insisted we bow OUR heads….he was ready to pray for US. Thank you, Sami, for “a child shall lead them”.