“Life is a long lesson in humility.” James M. Barrie (author, Peter Pan).
And for me, a particularly long lesson because I am a slow learner and have too many points of pride.
One of those points is my health: “I’m 76 and never been in a hospital.” (You may have heard me say that.) Usually (especially when with my Christian friends), I follow up with some comment about “God’s grace,” but it is at least 50% pride and exalting myself.
Jesus had a lot to say about this: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled” (Matthew 23:12). It’s a good idea to take note of the “will be” part of Jesus’ words—not “might be,” but “will be.”
Well, “will be” has caught up with me. If you saw me recently, you have noticed me walking with a limp. My 76-year-old-never-been-in-a-hospital left knee is headed for the hospital next month. And even worse, it’s not because of something else for me to be proud about like a sports injury or wrestling with my grandsons, it’s arthritis. I thought only “old people” got arthritis and have obviously been deceived about whether 76 is old or not. When I described this as “the worst day of my life,” I got zilch sympathy from my family.
Like Jacob and Paul, my wrestling match has been with God. In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestled with God all night and told God he wouldn’t let go unless “You bless me.” God did bless him, but part of the blessing was walking with a limp for the rest of his life so he would “not think more highly of himself than he ought to…” (Romans 12:3). Paul also had a wrestling match with God over “surpassing great revelations” he had received. To keep Paul from exalting himself, he was “given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me” (Romans 12:7). Three times he asked God for relief; God said no. I don’t know if Paul’s thorn was arthritis or not, but he had to live with it for the rest of his life.
The surgeon says I’ll be fine after the surgery; I’m going to be grateful, not proud. My “never been a hospital” days are going to be over, and if I slip back, the right knee is waiting its turn, and… I have other points of pride (ask Dottie, she knows what they are) for which God’s “will be humbled” is part of my future unless that is, I learn from this one.
What about you? You are exceptional if you don’t have a few “exalt self” things that God’s “will be humbled” applies to. If you don’t know what they are, ask someone who knows you well, they’ll know. Or if you sincerely ask God, He’ll reveal them. Since this is supposed to be a leadership blog, let me close with this from Mahatma Gandhi:
It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.Mahatma Gandhi
If this post was interesting and useful, please forward it to friend.
© Copyright 2020 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner