Friday, May 11, 2012

It's Not About Me: Resting in Humility


I've recently grown to really like this statement.  Simple.  Direct.  To the point.  It's a reminder of why I'm on this earth, taking up space, daily breathing and consuming resources.  Ultimately, it's not about me.  As confirmation of this, I am beginning to hear this statement echoed regularly from various speakers, advocates, and teachers.  I'm starting to hear these four words verbatim in songs.  I've even seen a t-shirt that I'd like to have that says this on the front and the back states "It's Not About You Either".  It is the mantra of the selfless, those willing to lay down their life and follow our Lord to whomever and through whatever He leads, regardless of the cost.

But I've been a hypocrite.  I haven't fully embraced this way of life or thinking.  I think to some degree all of us struggle more or less with some form of selfishness.  I often seem overwhelmed by these self-centered urges when I am tired, when I've had an exceedingly stressful day.  Work can  be demanding and sometimes I can't seem to get that shifting of gears completed before I walk through my front door at the end of the day and rather than meeting a father/husband with open arms, my family meets a man who craves isolation; one who desires to hide out in a cave for a few years.  But that is not what I'm referring to. 

I'm referring to humility.  This is the essence of "It's Not About Me" because in order to live this statement, one has to be willing to subordinate themselves to another;  to serve another.  I am certainly willing to serve others.  I can be unwise in over-committing myself to sign up sheets and work lists.  I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie of people volunteering their time to improve or help others and effect change for the better, especially if it is God's people doing His work.  Those are the best times of being knit together and fellowship.  As a result of these experiences, I have church family that expands far beyond the local church I attend.  They are family along the order of THE Church and this is phenomenally greater.  This is the Body of Christ at work and it is exciting to be a part of it.

But there are many people involved at this level and, to be honest, this does not necessarily require that much humility; just a passion and willingness to get behind the cause at hand.  In fact, the more people that are involved in a work, the more the danger increases to "jump aboard the bandwagon" for the simple act of being among the numbered in that work.  Can God still use all of these hands and feet?  Absolutely.  It is amazing to see how God mobilizes people to meet the needs of others.  But I'm talking about the heart of the individual.  The larger the work, the more critical it becomes to regularly guard one's heart from pride.  And here is where I've been the hypocrite.

I am involved with a work that I have been fretting over for some months now.  It is not a work that I began.  In fact, it was started a few years ago, but our hearts were drawn to it and we love and support those who did begin this ministry.  None-the-less I am now involved to the point that I am in process of praying and believing for God's provision regarding this ministry, specifically my role in it.  I say fretting, but I need to include the words "worrying", "concerned", and "restless" here as well for I have been all of these things.  I recently emailed a friend of mine regarding this and in their reply two things leaped out at me.  "Humility" and "Rest". 

I had not been 'resting' in this at all.  In fact, my mind has ever been increasing in hurried thought and planning as I work to think through ideas and strategies for making what I desire to see happen occur.  But that is the problem:  "what I desire to see happen".  But humility?  I tend to think of myself as fairly humble.  I'm not a braggart or boastful.  I take pride in a job well done but I'm equally thankful for the ability to do it.  I'm amazed and thankful for the incredible things God is doing in my wife's and mine's lives and willing to point to Him as the source.  If anything, I tend to wrestle with self-confidence in a crowd so humility, or rather its antithesis, pride, is not a real wrestling match for me.
"Really?" says a voice in my ear.
"Why are you so stressed out over this?"

"Because, I have obligations that need to be met and there is work that I don't know how is going to get done and others are depending on me and I don't want to let others down or fail!" I answer.

"Whose work is this, yours or mine?" is the reply.

"Well of course it's yours Lord, but I have to do my part or I will fail...." my weak answer trails off as the epiphany strikes me. 

To this point, I had been acting as though my efforts were the hinge pin under which God's work through me would ultimately fail or succeed.  I had taken the reigns and was driving with little to no trust in God's ability to enact His own plan, this sovereign unstoppable God who formed the cosmos and knows the count of every follicle on my scalp.  Now don't mistake me.  We are all called to work, to be hands and feet, to go where he leads and do what is necessary.  But He never requires us to worry or fret.  Only to follow and be willing to go where he leads.  This was further reinforced in a timely teaching by Pastor Sammy Adebiyi (click on name to see post) where he described how Jonah tried to not only not see God's will, he tried to lose God's will by running as far from it as possible only to have God bring him right back to it.  How much more does God honor the heart that seeks to do His will?

In my case, God needed to show me that my lack of humility was, in fact, one of the barriers to this work moving forward in my life.  I had to pour through the scriptures to relearn an in-depth lesson God had taught me nearly two years previous on the subject.  I had made the success of God's plan about me, rather than being willing to be the tool in His hand for His purpose.  Repentance came easily and now I can say "It's Not About Me".  And with this, comes relief; relief from the myriad of how's and whys because I don't have to figure it out - it's His plan, and It's Not About Me.

"But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
'God opposes the proud but favors the humble.'
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you."

James 4:6-8 (NLT)

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