Humility. Putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Allowing someone else to get the credit. I don’t know about you, but humility is sometimes hard. It can feel defeating like we are never going to get the recognition we are certain we deserve! We place a value on the recognition, based on historical data from what we have seen happening around us, and we decide our lives will be less than if we don’t get it.
Let me share my latest brush with humility. I work at a company that has a very strict rule about being in a position a certain length of time before being able to move to another position or get a promotion. When I hired in, I was overqualified but I needed a job and a friend hired me. After four months, I was promoted to supervisor. This felt good considering I knew that our director must have had to present a reason to promote me in less than a year. I was no longer working for my friend, now we were peers.
A manager position opened up and I couldn’t apply because of the timing, so my friend got the manager position. I love this friend like a sister so I was happy for her, but in all honesty I was jealous and irritated. I was every bit as qualified and I feared that I wouldn’t shine as brightly now because she was raised up and I wasn’t. I stewed on it, not upset with her but the situation, for a while. Then my stewing turned to praying. In time, and it wasn’t even a long time, I was able to engage humility and just be happy for my friend. Did I still hope for a promotion? You bet. But I put God’s timing above mine.
Here was my primary driver behind my lack of humility…fear. I was afraid that my needs weren’t going to get met instead of just trusting God. I was afraid people weren’t going to recognize my leadership qualities instead of just believing my leadership ability doesn’t come because of a title. I was afraid I wouldn’t get the praises of man instead of just seeking the praises of God. Ah humility, you are ever elusive aren’t you. I was too focused on me.
John the baptizer seems to have had an easier time being humble than I did. Here he has spent his life thus far proclaiming the coming Messiah. He’s lived in obscurity doing the will of God and now Jesus shows up and steals his followers. What’s worse, John’s followers come up to him and point it out, as if John can’t see what’s happening. My imagination pictures a scene in a high school hallway where 3 or 4 friends walk together to one friend standing alone. They form a circle of indignation and say things like, “Who does he think he is? How can YOUR people now follow him? How rude! Why doesn’t Jesus tell them to come back over here?” Silly, I know, but you see what I’m saying.
John’s reaction is amazing to the point of irritation. (Or is that conviction I feel?) Basically, John says, “Ya, isn’t it great! My message has been getting through and people are turning to Jesus!! Sweet!” John knows that he has to allow Jesus to take center stage. It’s what he has been saying his entire life. He doesn’t get to pout or stomp his feet, it would have gone against what he believed. John valued the recognition of God above the recognition of people. Humility.
Recognition will come, don’t worry. If not here on earth, in heaven. Seek humility. Ask God to reveal areas in your life where you may be harboring bitterness. Then pray and seek humility. God’s got you and His favor is more than anyone else can ever give.