The Value of Being Humble
Recently a writer friend asked me what I thought about him going in a particular direction with a story. Was it a good idea to pursue one type of publication over another? It’s an age-old question with us authors. “I want to be published. What’s the best way to do that?” Like most of the population, we want to set some goals and pursue them, but we kind of want to know that the goal we set is the right one.
I read a piece the other day about the importance of leaning your ladder against the right building. The author talked about how frustrating and spirit-destructive it is to spend hours and hours climbing a particular ladder—to wealth or in your career or in accumulating possessions, etc.—only to wake up one day and realize the ladder you’ve been climbing is leaning against the wrong wall.
That’s what my writer friend was trying to avoid, putting lots of hours into an endeavor that might ultimately prove fruitless and a waste of time. I understand. I’ve been there, and I visit “there” quite frequently even now. “What should I do? Would X bring me where I want to be, or should I do Y?”
The temptation in living in the world when someone asks you this question is to stand up on your own understanding and give your best advice. “Well, I think X is a waste of time. You really need to do Y.” The problem with this is that there is no way for each of us to judge the buildings either. In truth, there are pros and cons of each, and although our experience may give us some perspective, there is no guarantee that our perspective holds true for another person.
So, I did with him what I do with myself. “I think you should go to God and ask Him.” But how to do that? I have known people who’ve twisted themselves into knots trying to discern what God is asking them to do. They want to do it right, and they are convinced that God does too, but for the life of them, they can’t figure out what God’s will is. It’s paralyzing and often destructive.
I’m quite sure when Peter started sinking on the sea after walking on the water, he was probably thinking, “Hello! I’m such an idiot. I must’ve misunderstood what Jesus was asking me to do because this ain’t working out too well.”
Peter’s failure of faith had to do with taking his eyes off Christ and remanding them and his situation to his own control. That’s deadly as Peter nearly found out. You don’t know what’s best. You can’t.
But God can, and He does. The trick is to learn how to listen for Him in ways that lead you to what He’s asking you to do.
That’s why I gave my friend my sure-fire method of finding out what God has in mind. I call it “Peace or no peace.” You get really quiet, breathe to settle your spirit, and then ask. “Doing X, peace or no peace?” Then listen and feel in your spirit what the answer is. If there is another option, ask “Doing Y, peace or no peace?” Your spirit will feel at peace with the right answer. Then you have to have the courage to do that answer.
Doing that will give you spirit-wisdom guidance in which wall you should lean your ladder against.
Now you may wonder what all this has to do with being humble. Well, the other night our pastor said a line that stopped me in my tracks. “The more humble we can be; the less judgmental we will be.” Talk about profound!
And he’s right. The more humble I become in subjecting myself to God’s will for my life—taking the steps He’s asking me to take, saying what He’s asking me to say, doing what He’s asking me to do—the more I realize how little I know, how little I control, and how awesome He is.
As I realize I don’t have all the answers, I can so see that others don’t either. In the fog of panic and fear, they make bad decisions that lead to more heartache and trouble. From this perspective, I can see what God means about hating the sin but loving the sinner. I have become far less judgmental than when I was trying to puff up my own life value by telling everyone what I thought they should do.
But it goes farther than that, the more humble you become, the more often you remember that you don’t have all the answers. The best part is, you get so ingrained in going to God in your own life, that you remember to point them to Him for their answers as well.
I highly recommend seeking humbleness—saying you don’t know when you don’t, going to God when you’re confused, frustrated, afraid, and learning to trust His answers, and helping others to learn to do the same. It’s a really cool way to live.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2007