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.




Rule Breaker

Jesus didn’t care about the cultural rules, He cared about people. In John 4, we find the story of the woman at the well. If you don’t know this story, here’s the summary: Jesus travels through Samaria which is enemy territory as far as Jewish culture was concerned. Not only does He stop there for some water, He talks to a Samaritan who happens to be a woman. (Insert double gasp here.) Jewish men would never stop in Samaria for water and would certainly never talk to a woman. Jesus broke the cultural rules in a big way! Yikes!

So right off the bat we see that Jesus doesn’t care one bit about the rules, He cares about the people. He knows the woman is an outcast if for no other reason, because she is at the well by herself and culturally, women went together. He also knows she’s an outcast because He is God and He knows her entire story, which we see Him recite to her as they spend more time together. He is seeking to lift her burden and bring her life, in spite of the rules. He isn’t breaking any laws or going against God, He’s going against man here. 

We can end right there and write books and sermons on how we need to support the outcasts in our modern day Samaria’s, and people have. It’s an amazing story of unconditional love and it is quickly becoming a story I live my life by, but I don’t want us to stop at the encounter with the woman, I want to go a little deeper.

Jesus changes this woman’s life and in what is typical fashion when we encounter God, she runs and tells everyone in town what happened. Clearly she isn’t known to be a liar because many people believe her testimony and they run out to meet Jesus. Those who were willing, also encountered the love of Christ and their lives were changed. Awesome! Now here comes the kicker…they ask Him to stay with them and He agrees. Talk about being a rule breaker!

We already know that just stopping in Samaria raises eyebrows. Then we add talking to a Samaritan woman on top of that and well, it’s tabloid worthy. Now Jesus is actually going to stay with this riff raff for a couple days. Can you just see the eye rolling?! In saying yes to staying and spending time with the outcasts, the unwanted, Jesus breaks the rules and shows us that love trumps reputation. Loving the Samaritan people, ruffling the feathers of the establishment by building relationships, being in the “wrong place” didn’t shake Jesus at all, so why does it shake us? 

Here’s the deal, there are no “those people”, there are only people. Jesus doesn’t just ask us to love our neighbor, He shows us how. He doesn’t care how it will look or what others will say and we have to follow His example. We must be willing to go wherever He leads, even if people in our lives don’t understand. 

Here’s my prayer for you and me, “Jesus, show us where our “Samaria” is and show us how to love them with Your love.” Some rules have to be broken because they cause such amazing amounts of harm. Love breaks those rules every time.