Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Interest of Others

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:1-8

Wilkepedia defines humility as “the defining characteristic of an unpretentious and modest person, someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.” In this day and age (dog eat dog world) it has become human nature to be the best (at all cost). Every day we see someone climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder via the knife in someone else’s back. This goes against the very nature of humility and the advice Paul gave the Church in Philippi; “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

According to the Roman Catholic theologian, poet, and writer, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, (François Fénelon), “Humility is good in every situation, because it produces that teachable spirit which makes everything easy.” To be honest, if I had a name like him I would be humble as well! But he does make a good point. How much more likely are we to learn from an experience if we are humble? Experience has taught me that if I’m not humble God is good to humble me. There is such a fine line between arrogance, confidence, and humility; as there should be (at least the later two). We probably need a healthy, Christian mix of confidence and humility. Arrogance; however, we can probably do without. Seth Godin put it this way, “Confidence is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly in marketing or investing. Arrogance, on the other hand, is hard to reward. My favorite combination is the quiet confidence of knowledge, combined with the humility that comes from realizing that you're pretty lucky and that you have no idea at all what's guaranteed to work tomorrow.”

So how do we find this healthy mix that will allow us to “look out for our own interests, while looking out for the interests of others?” Wilkepedia explained that legitimate Christian humility is comprised of the following behaviors and attitudes:

  1. Submission to God and legitimate authority;
  2. Recognition of the virtues and talents that others possess, particularly those which surpass one's own, and giving due honor and, when required, obeisance;
  3. Recognition of the limits of one's talents, ability, or authority; and, not reaching for that which is beyond one's grasp.

So, as I continue my journey into 2009 in pursuit of the perfect word for the year, I cannot help but think (know) I have a long ways to go to become the humble person God designed me to be. Loosing all my hair was a good start! Living in a country where I didn’t speak the language was a big help as well. Having two kids is just icing on the cake! Just last night I got to paint my three year old daughter’s toe nails. God obviously has a sense of humor! Glad He is patient with me.

Aspire to new heights. Humbly yours, JH.

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