Sunday, February 21, 2010

Humility and How I Obtained It*

     I once attended a leadership training seminar in which a teacher opened her session with the question, "How humble are you?" I couldn't resist shouting out, "Very!"
     That's the treacherous nature of humility. It is the strange virtue that disallows one to be conscious  of  it. My husband possesses such a virtue. But just to make sure, I once looked at him and pointedly asked: "David Bogdan, are you humble?" I smirked, curiously awaiting his reply. Both "yes" and "no" would have been "wrong" answers. Without too much delay, he said, "It's all relative."
     But there's more to humility than merely not being puffed up. Jesus talked of being "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:1), i.e. teachable, "needy" in the healthy sense of knowing you have a lot to learn. I thought about this recently while listening in on a discussion about what it looks like to be humble. A man said he cannot receive from teachers or preachers that are a little too pious or self-confident. As he repeated for the third time that he chooses what internet preacher to listen to based on his or her humility quota, the irony of his words struck me: How humble is he? Isn't humility having the ability to hear from anyone, leaving it up to God to handle that person's pride?
    Furthermore, the apostle Peter admonished Christian slaves to honor and respect masters that were harsh and unreasonable (proud), as well as those who were kind and gentle (I Peter 2:18). If God expected that much from first century slaves, should He not expect a humble attitude from me toward a minister who's lacking in humility?
    Some say that you can't be humble and at the same time know that you are. Let me take it one step further: Those that are truly humble are aware that they have an incurable, deep-rooted pride of the most sinister sort. humble are you?    

*Humility and How I Obtained It is a fictitious book title, a joke told by the beloved (and very humble) Bible teacher Bob Mumford.