For the next few Wednesdays enjoy guest posts from a wonderful group of Bethel Seminary students on the topic of faith and vocation. This week’s post comes from Marcia Schneider.
Competent and Humble
What is it that you are really good at doing? Although those who know us the best may have a different list for us than we have for ourselves, we’re all competent at a variety of things. Maybe you can turn a profit that makes your competitors envy, or you can wield a surgeon’s knife better than anyone in the region. Or maybe you win blue ribbons for your pumpkin pie. Why do we have such a hard time finding a balance between feeling competent and remaining humble? Perhaps we have misunderstood what humility really is.
We know that God opposes the proud. And most of us have a hard time being around the person who demands constant affirmation, enough so that he or she consistently points out personal achievements in an annoying way. Is this a manifestation of pride? If we feel competent, are we experiencing pride? Is pride really the opposite of humility?
In Matt 11:29 Jesus said, “…I am gentle and humble in heart…” What an amazing thought! Jesus, the very Son of God, the creator of the universe, the one enthroned in Heaven, is humble. Col 1:16-17 tells us that all things were made by him, through him and for him. Yet, this same Jesus is the one who looked at all he had made and said, “It is good!” God enjoyed what he had done by straightening up, standing back, wiping his hands, then smiling and admiring his work, he said to himself, “I did that!” He acknowledged that he was competent and it gave him pleasure. Why would we feel that we ought to do anything less? When we have done something well, why do we imagine we ought to make light of it, or give away the credit in order to feel humble?
On one of those amazing, hot July days, when the woods beckoned enticingly, I went hiking deep into the forest. Sitting down under a random tree I began to notice the small things around me as the silence fell. There at my feet was the tiniest blue flower I had ever seen. In that quiet moment with the Lord, I realized that if I had not wandered by this exact spot, seen this exact flower, no one would ever have known it was there. In fact, there were hundreds and thousands of such little blue flowers that no one will ever see. Why would God go to the trouble of making such an exquisite thing when no one would ever enjoy it?
The answer is that God made that flower, and all the others like it because he is a creator. It’s who he is. He is a flower maker and he is competent to make them whenever he wishes. I enjoyed that flower, but sometimes God makes things for his own enjoyment, not only mine. It’s an outflow of who he is. He loves doing it! He is competent, and humble, because humility is acknowledging joyful reality in a way that invites others into our joy.
So, back to the question of what you do well…what are you competent to do that brings a smile to your face? Must it be seen by others before it is worth doing? Is it humble to admire your work and acknowledge that it is good? How might you invite others into your joy?
Matt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.