Tag Archives: Humility

Don’t you dare teach me anything… by Amy Crick

8 Feb

Another guest post on this week’s challenge – one which seems to have captured a lot of imaginations and challenged a lot of hearts. And at last, the name of Pastor Mark Driscoll is invoked, by schools worker Amy Crick…

amycrickA while ago I attended a friends wedding at a church that I had many differing opinions with. The pastor was someone I had disagreed with often, and having heard him speak before, I went in ready to disagree strongly with him once again. However, as I sat and listened to his talk, I was challenged by a number of his points and had a very positive and helpful conversation with my husband on the drive home as result of it.

I realised that this pastor was one of a number of people I had on a list in my head – a list of people from whom I had determined to never learn anything. Included on this list were a number of high profile church leaders and speakers as well as some local ones.

What I realised was that this viewpoint was one of incredible arrogance and pride – I saw it that these people could never have anything of relevance to say to me!?!? I had placed a barrier in my mind that would discount anything they had to say, and I was quick to criticise and highlight anything I saw as justification for this.

This weeks challenge made me aware once again of this unwritten list – it still exists, and has been added to. That is why I am so thankful for this weeks challenge, because it takes me back to that wonderful moment after my friends wedding when I realised what I may have missed out on had I not been willing to listen. It is an opportunity to knock down the walls I have built, and open myself up once again to God’s teaching through whomever He chooses to use.

This week, me and my husband have decided to listen to Mark Driscoll’s series on marriage together. This is a challenge for both of us, but especially me as Mark is a regular on my unwritten list! However, having listened to the first episode, I found some of what he had to say incredibly helpful. Sure, there were a few things I disagreed with, but that’s ok. Even those things have helped me think and reflect on my own views.

Who are the people on your list? Who have you blocked out?

Amy Crick is a Schools worker for CYO in Colchester, working as a school chaplain and leading a self esteem course for teenage girls called Beloved. She is married to Ben and loves baking, The West Wing and Pokemon. Amy blogs at www.amycrick.com and occasionally tweets as @oneandonlyamy

Advertisements

An anonymous post on real humility

21 Jan

A final, final guest blog on the subject of humility, submitted just as we were about to launch challenge four. But do you know what? This is just too good a piece of writing to waste.

I got ‘humility’ wrong for years. I thought it was something I should try to have, as  a Christian, and that it was the opposite of Pride. Humility, I thought, was refusing to accept compliments when given me, or actively running myself down to myself and in front of others. I recognised that Dickens’ Uriah Heep was not an attractive character, but I thought that maybe it was he didn’t really believe the awful things he said about himself. I, on the other hand, would make sure that I reminded myself daily about my shortcomings and weaknesses so that I would be truly and sincerely humble.

So my understanding of humility thrived on masochism and lack of self worth. It had nothing really to do with the overwhelming Joy of feeling totally and unconditionally loved by God, and I found that as I grew older and tried to follow Christ I was more and more in conflict in my spiritual life. The more ‘humble’ I tried to be the more miserable I became. And the more miserable I was the more I felt that I wasn’t a good Christian, and ran myself down more. The ‘gift’ of Humility felt more like a burden.

And then, after meeting lovely friends, getting married to a gorgeous man who really loved me and having four wonderful children, I found myself getting happier and happier and more confident. I found myself recognising that I had gifts, that I could be pretty, funny, clever, kind. This really worried me. What was happening to my humility? I tried to cut myself down to size again, in fear that if I didn’t work on running myself down I would become arrogant and proud.  I prayed to God to help.

And he did. But not in the way I thought he would. I came across the writings of the monk Thomas Merton. He said that humility was not denying, but accepting and rejoicing in your gifts, as if they were the gifts of someone else, not taking credit for them, but recognising that they existed and using them for God’s glory.  I read this, and recognised its truth, but still deep down I did not really believe it or act on it. I became a carer for my elderly father in law and then my elderly parents. When people praised me for being a good daughter my humility obsession went into overdrive  and I spent my time working very hard to look after my family, work in a job and be a carer  while continually feeling guilty whenever anyone praised me or told me I was a good person. I feared appreciation or compliments because it meant I had to redress the balance, in the interests of ‘humility’ and tell myself even more than usual that I was rubbish.

The stress of this led to me crying at my GP’s and being put in touch with a therapist. And this, I believe, was the answer to prayer given to me by our loving, gentle, God. This therapist has finally led me to recognise that what I had been working so hard for years to achieve was not humility but self loathing, the complete opposite of what Jesus wants us to feel.

Humility, I have realised, is absolutely Joyful. It is not something we can work at, just as we cannot earn God’s love by our own efforts. Humility is the natural result when we realise that what Jesus tells us is true – that we are utterly loved by God, that we are not lovable because we are clever, or pretty, or even a good daughter, but just because we ARE.  And if that is true of us it is the same of everybody else, and so our respective talents or achievements become irrelevant. Humility is the happiness and confidence of a little child who knows both that they are loved by their parents, but also that they are completely dependent on them. Humility is relaxing in the knowledge that God knows we are not perfect but thinks we are infinitely lovable- and knowing that, as God knows everything, it is really true.

What I learned in week three

21 Jan

DjangoOn Saturday, I braved the snow and went to see  Django Unchained. (Quick review- It’s Tarintino doing, in this order, westerns, The Help and Tarintino, go and see it, it’s ace.) Over the course of the film the lead character, Django, is transformed, or, as the film would put it, unchained. He goes from being one thing at the start of the film, to something totally different by the end of it. I found myself wondering if in this act of love and revenge (not a spoiler) Django, rather than discovering who he was, lost who he was. Can the things that we do lead to us losing ourselves?

And this got me thinking about humility. I wonder if when we fail to be humble, when we spend our whole time projecting this inflated image of ourselves to other people, do we begin to believe this, and as such, do we begin to lose who we are?

If this is true, humility is actually about being comfortable with who we are and being comfortable with who God has made us to be. When we can fully accept who we are as being ‘OK’ we don’t need to spend our whole time telling others about what we have done, about how influential we are, or about how brilliant we are.

It could be said that this week’s challenge had two parts. The first part was easy- perform an act of kindness. I get a real kick out of doing stuff like this, I love making people feel good, feeling blessed and finding ways to show that I love them. The keeping it anonymous part was difficult. I have an urge to tell people (in that sly humble-brag way) about what I’ve done, because somehow people might then believe that I’m a vaguely decent human. In fact, the real reason I want to tell people about what I’ve done this is so linked to this particular part of myself that I can’t tell you. But basically, I want affirmation, or, as The Smiths put it ‘I am human and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does.’

But the great thing about this week was that I didn’t tell anyone, that I didn’t feel the need to tell anyone.  That somehow through this act of humble giving I had the chance to feel secure in my skin. To bless someone purely to bless them and not to impress anyone. So week three- done. And I ruddy enjoyed it.

Andy Gray on a hard but beautiful journey

21 Jan

Our final guest blog on the subject of humility comes from pastor Andy Gray. This week’s guest blogs have looked at humility from every angle, and in this post, Andy brings us back to the radical humility demanded by Jesus. Check back tomorrow morning for another challenge!

My wife Jodi and I are as a couple being humbled by God at the moment as we get ready to plant a church in Clapham, South London.

During the process of getting things ready for the Church to launch I have experienced failure after failure. I’ve felt completely alone, broken, humiliated and lost hope. All that before even having our first Sunday service. My wife heard from God, got us both praying and fasting and then every thing started falling into place (aka God showed us how things are done).

Paul the apostle called himself a ‘bondservant’, which means to be devoted to another to the disregard of ones own interests. Boy, would I love to feel like I could say that of myself in relation to my commitment to Jesus. Sure I have had moments of it, but I don’t think it could be a key phrase to describe my relationship.

Humility for me has been one of those studies I have often sought to avoid, because every time I have studied it, I have had to change my whole life. It never asks you to change a little thing, and if it does it always leads to massive upheaval later on. The lesson of humility is unavoidable…

‘God is opposed to the proud but the humble He gives His grace to…’  James 4:6 // 1 Peter 5:5

God opposing us sounds scary, but it really is comforting. It says in Psalm 23, He guides us in the path of righteousness for His name sake. He doesn’t just let us veer off course to arrogance and pride, He will oppose us like a road block. He disciplines those he loves; another humbling but beautiful characteristic of God.

The underlying message being, if we don’t bring ourselves to humility – God will, and obedience is greater than sacrifice. Humility and Love are the two distinguishing characteristics we should be known for above everything else.

I have often found when God is trying to change me I do every thing I can to keep busy. I want to encourage us to come to God, ask Him where He wants us to grow in humility, then be still. Take time to listen, then think about how to put it into practice.

‘Love one another as I have loved you, by this all men will know you are my disciples…’ – Jesus

How do you want to be loved?

Now love some one else like that!

Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. He took up His cross for all of us. He calls us to be like Him and nothing stands out more than a person putting some one else first.

Have fun this week submitting to God and enjoy freaking people out, the look of shock on their faces makes it totally worth it.

Humility can be so much fun, be imaginative, be creative! Change yourself and your world!

Andy Gray is the co-leader of a new church in Clapham called CityHill which launches on feb 17th. Follow their adventures on twitter @CityHill_ or via Facebook Facebook.com/CityHill.UK

Jess Macivor on humility: action vs attitude

19 Jan

Another great guest blog on humility, written partly in response to this week’s God52 challenge. In this post, theology student Jess Macivor focuses on the connection between humility and contentment.

jess mcivorHumility is something that I thought I had fairly well sussed.  For several years now I’ve been immersed in volunteering with my school (now university), church, and local community. I am terrible at accepting praise or compliments. Despite appearing humble by my actions, I found that my attitude often erred.

Several years ago I started volunteering as a steward at Soul Survivor, a well-known Christian youth festival. At times stewarding, (with tasks such as litter picking) can force humility, or at least you’d think so. The festival is run by a large network of wonderful volunteers, but we’re human. As humans, it’s easy to get consumed with position rather than the purpose. When I started stewarding it was all about being servant-hearted and giving glory to God; however, at times I let the affirmation of my peers become more important than my motivation for being there. I let myself become bigger than God.

In 2012 I was faced with a potentially big health scare, which could have made me physically unable to steward in the future.  I love volunteering with Soul Survivor, and the thought that I might become unable to was deeply upsetting. Humility requires us to be content where we are, submitting to God’s plan rather than our own… I realised that I wasn’t very content with the idea of waiting on God. As distressing this process was, it re-focused me on God. Working for Him isn’t about what you do but whom you do it for. I found myself being humbled in light of God, who deserves more credit than me… always. God won’t put me in a position where he can’t use me for his glory, but I must remember that the glory is His, not mine. Ultimately it’s not about us at all.

Humility is more than just counter-cultural actions; it’s also about counter-cultural attitudes. With this week’s challenge in mind I would ask that you let it be about God; let it be about humbling yourself as Jesus humbled himself;  and if any credit is to be given, make sure it goes to God.

Jess Macivor is studying Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chichester. She tries to blog at theologybyjess.blogspot.com and tweets far more frequently at @Jess_Macivor.

Matt Currey on finding the space to fail

18 Jan

This week’s challenge might have seemed innocuous at first, but the reaction to it has proved that humility is a key struggle for many, many people. In this latest guest blog, Tearfund’s Matt Currey reflects on how humbling ourselves to the point that we’re prepared to fail, can be the path to personal and spiritual growth.

Matt currey“Humility is the virtue that allows people to take the risks and survive the humiliation. This is also integral to the task of learning discipleship” Stephen Cherry.

I am a Father of 2 great children and I say that with a sense of pride and joy rather than with any great sense of humility!

One of the many joys and ‘landmark’ moments of being a parent is when your child is learning to walk and makes the transition and takes those first few steps! It’s an amazing and profound moment. Having celebrated and had that ‘wow’ moment I remember reflecting on the struggle and the process beind this great feat. There were certainly many attempts and many failures before success, but they did not give up despite the setbacks. They got up and tried again. A profound lesson in persistence, keeping going and therefore I guess humility.

I’m aware as an adult of how much harder it can be to try things, especially after a number of failed attempts, and of how this ‘failure’ can knock confidence and character. When does this attitude in us change? Why does it change? Why can’t we be more prepared to give something a go and be ready to fail more?

Last year I took the challenge of doing 9 themed spiritual ‘journeys’, each lasting for 40 days and one of those themes (foolishly for me) was on humility. I was, just like my children as they learned to walk, setting myself up to fail, and fail in an epic way! But, although I stumbled, tripped, fell and made a mess of things, like my kids, I am glad that I persisted, because although I didn’t make much progress, I did at least make some! (At least I think so, he says’s humbly!)

The only progress I made was realising that there was nothing in my doing and in my actions that was going to increase or grow my humility.

I learnt pretty quickly that in trying to be more humble I was set to fail, fall and stumble, but that was, is and should be ok. We have to be allowed the grace and the opportunity to explore, make mistakes and not be put off.

I realised during this journey that I still wanted to be recognised for myself and for my work; to see my twitter followers increase; to be thanked for some of the good things I do. If I had ‘switched off’ that desire I reckon I would have been less human and basically full of false humility. However I was thankful that I could choose to be more anonymous if I wanted and also to give some things a try and learn some things.

We need to be more confident in being honest, in being vulnerable and being given the space to fail. Its hard, Its not very natural or progressive.  I guess its pretty humbling!

***I am thankful for Stephen Cherry’s amazing book, my daughter and many patient friends, family and colleagues who have taught me so much about humility.***

Matt Currey works for Tearfund and blogs as part of the Breathe community. He is married with two children, and loves curry, live music and good coffee.

James Roberts on a revealing challenge

18 Jan

Undertaking this week’s God52 challenge has been a painful journey of self-discovery for IT professional James Roberts. Here he shares his story.

The God52 challenge this week is all about humility. When I first read the challenge I thought to myself: great, a nice easy task. After last week’s failure at praying here was something I was good at. I am naturally an introvert, preferring to stay in the background and get on with things rather than pushing my way to the front and bragging about my achievements. Or so I thought…

Once a week I help out at our church’s small youth group, an introduction into Christianity for a few 10-14 year olds, and at first I did it because two of those 10-14 year olds were mine and the church needed another volunteer to help out (and I was nominated by my ever-so-precious wife). Once I started helping though something strange came over me, I enjoyed it and have thrown myself into youth work, reading books on it, attending conferences and planning how to make our small group bigger.

Everything was growing great until another mum started coming to church and helping out with the group. Suddenly I was in a kind of ‘competition’ with someone else; this new family was hogging all the limelight. The church leader was talking about how nice it was having a new family in church, a perfect family with the perfect house and perfect clothes. My house is falling to bits and most of the time my children and I look like we have just forced our way through a hedge whilst being chased by a herd of cows, and so in order to compete I worked harder at the youth group; I planned lessons and discussions and talked about theme nights we can do.

Now you may say this is all well and good, it is great that I am working so hard in the youth group. But I am putting in this extra work for all the wrong reasons. I am doing it for the recognition and praise of other church members. I want to pulled up front and told I am doing a great job, I want people to pat me on the back and say ‘well done’, ‘you are amazing’, ‘you are a star’, and the strange thing is I never realised it until I read about this challenge.

So maybe I am not as humble as I thought and maybe I need to learn how to show more humility just as much as I needed to learn to develop a regular prayer pattern. The only question now: what can my anonymous good deed be?

James Roberts has the most exciting job in the world, sat behind a desk making spreadsheets. With his free time he helps run his local Youth Group, reads every book he can get his hands on and tweets at @james_openpath

Mark McFeeters: Pride comes before a bad decision

17 Jan

In this guest post, youth specialist Mark McFeeters writes honestly about how a lack of humility came before the proverbial fall…

Mark McFeetersHumility is something I struggle with. I am a man, have a big ego, I like to get things right, I always have the answer and I don’t like showing weakness!

Sound familiar? Maybe some of us are too afraid to admit how selfish we are, it’s maybe too close for comfort to talk about. Us youth practitioners always like to have an opinion, an answer and don’t like getting things wrong; after all, that’s a clear sign of weakness!

I took up a role in October 2012 that I knew was a good move for me in a work context, it was long term funded, decent salary, no anti-social hours, intriguing work – what more could I want, right?

WRONG! I made a bad decision; I took up a role, which, on reflection wasn’t a good move. God has used this experience to teach me a lot about how selfish I had become, how my ego and career had taken centre-stage and how I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me. Looking back I think if I had been more humble, more patient, I might have saved myself a lot of stress and worry.

We often associate humility with weakness, being a servant as a sign that we don’t have the confidence, courage or capacity to lead and take centre stage. God doesn’t say this. Matthew 18:4 (NLT Version) says; ‘So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’.

God has been good to me; he has opened a door to an organisation with whom I’ve previously worked, in an environment I know I thrive in. This time around I’m seeking to work and live differently, to live with a humble spirit, seeking God and aiming to make a lasting difference with those I work with, living with a higher level of purpose and conviction. Maybe my three-month ‘detour’ was the experience I needed to get to this point – but that’s a whole other debate!

But I wonder how many of us are actually more concerned about ourselves in our work, seeking to keep up the appearance of someone who has it all together, using our work with young people to benefit ourselves, or are we truly living as humble servants, seeking to usher in the Kingdom of God in every situation we find ourselves in?

Let’s seek the benefit of others. Let’s be people of humility who are more concerned with encouraging others, speaking prophetically into the lives of those around us instead of looking inwards. Let’s seek and trust in the promises of God as we see in Matthew 18:4.

Mark McFeeters is a Youth worker for Youth Initiatives in Northern Ireland, and has been working as a full-time youth worker in church and other faith-based contexts for 7 years. He blogs at www.markmcfeet.com.

 

Liz Morrison on practicing and growing in humility

17 Jan

Another guest blog post, inspired by this week’s humility challenge, exploring why sometimes God seems to humble us…

Liz MorrisonDon’t you love coasting in Jesus? Getting up each morning, knowing that the whole day is yours, that you just have to climb out of your bed and bounce downstairs, start your day with food in your belly, clean clothes on, and no fear in your heart. No fear that someone will seek you out to stop you doing what you choose to do most days. No fear that bailiffs will be at your door waiting to strip you of your possessions and dignity. No fear that you need to speak to the doctor about the test results. No fear that you need to protect yourself or your children from drunken fists. No fear that this will be the very last day that you might be able to get through.

Grace is awesome and amazing. Most of us live out our faith in the most civilised, sterile and safe environment. We pray and intercede when the mood takes us, happily engage in some worshipful time, but basically carry on knowing that God has got it covered.

But if you have ever cried so hard you become hoarse, or have ever felt fear so real it makes you feel sick. If you have ever had to say goodbye to someone in your family while they are dying. If you have ever felt that your life is now not your own and there is no more you can do – you can come before God with such a passion and earnestness that you become nothing and God becomes everything.

Living out a life without fear means that we are living a life so very blessed that our heart should be shouting out with thanksgiving. But for some reason that doesn’t happen. Maybe that is why God takes us to the deserts and valleys. Quite often these are the places where we cry out to God the loudest, with our most honest and heartfelt cries.

There is no joy in this at the time, but when we find sanctuary again our heart can overflow with a passionate love for our almighty God to celebrate where we have been carried to.

Liz Morrison is a freelance writer, editor and PR living in rural Wales, and describes herself thus: “Lover of Jesus, good coffee and cheap peanut butter. Trying to be a good wife and mummy. Love my church. Especially love working with youth.” Read her blog, or follow her on twitter.

Martin Thompson on why we do good

17 Jan

The first of several guest blogs today on the subject of humility, comes from teacher Martin Thompson. In this post, he explores our sometimes-mixed motives for acts of kindness.

MartinThompsonEvery now and again I catch myself doing something decidedly odd.  While driving through a congested road, I move into a gap to let someone through, and then find myself bizarrely annoyed when the person who has benefited from this immense act of generosity passes by without even a hint of thanks.  Not even a little pinky raised in gratitude! The sheer selfishness of it!

And then I remember something.  We don’t do kind things for the praise we should get for doing them.  We don’t put ourselves out of the way for the warm glow we might feel for a short while (although that is a nice side effect, of course).  We act kindly because its who we are, part of being a human, part of living in communion with the rest of our world.

Yet this feels utterly wrong – we have this seemingly inbuilt desire for gratitude – almost as if a kind act is not sufficient or even complete without it being acknowledged with thanks.  When we stop and think about it, we begin to realise just how selfish many of our acts of kindness can be. What has motivated us?  The desire to make someone feel loved for a brief moment, or the desire to make ourselves feel good for doing good?

Before I sound too harsh, there’s a huge part of me that thinks whatever our motivation, it’s fine. As long as good is done, who cares?  I guess the point is that if we feel a burning sense of injustice because we haven’t been praised (see my driving example!) then we need to watch our motives.

A while back I had something tattooed on my arm that speaks to me of the right way to live, simply because its who we are made and meant to be.  It says this, “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly”.  Profound words from a wild Jewish prophet called Micah written hundreds of years ago in answer to the simple question “how does God want us to live?”.

Simple? Live justly, in a way that brings hope to all we encounter; love mercy, seeking to bring comfort to all; walk humbly, remembering who we are and who made us as we are.  When we get these things right it doesn’t matter who is thanking us or not.  We just know it’s the right way to be.

Difficult, I know, as being rewarded for kindness is a lovely thing, and it can sting when these little gestures go unnoticed. Your reward may not be seen or heard here and now, but just imagine what it might be like to be part of a community and economy that is founded on generosity and not greed.  That’s a bitter pill worth swallowing, isn’t it?

Martin Thompson is a husband, dad and teacher who loves thinking almost more than the actual doing, but is trying to get better at the doing bit. He blogs at http://missiome.wordpress.com about anything that enters his head and is on a bit of a journey with the whole church thing.