~ This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Brad Ettore. You can hear the whole sermon, The Role of Humility in Our Lives (part 4), from Agathos Church – a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio by clicking here.
Pride and humility are both mirrors – they reflect how we view ourselves and the world around us. This blog post will highlight 3 visuals – 2 illustrations will give a picture of humility, and one illustration will provide a visual of pride. When Pastor Brad shared these illustrations during his sermon on humility, something really clicked for me, so I am hopeful that the same will happen for you. For clarity’s sake, I will add an explanatory caption to each of these illustrations of humility.
HUMILITY ILLUSTRATION 1: Humility sees itself in the context of God and others. In this illustration of humility, “you” are in the far right of the frame (black and white). Notice your size. You are one picture among many. Above you is a group of 20-30 people – your family. Some of whom you see often, some of whom you may only see every 10 years. But regardless, you are comforted even by the simple fact that you have a family. Your family has always been there for you and always will be. Below you, you see your co-workers. Some would seemingly take a bullet for you, others are tougher to get along with – like your boss. But regardless, even your challenging boss is being used by God to weave the tapestry of your life and contribute to your personal growth – and you are thankful for that fact. In the bottom left corner are some of your best friends from college – caring, compassionate, and encouraging – they still are always able to see the potential in your life and call it out of you. You often tell them when you get together “I can’t thank you guys enough for who you are to me.” Then there is the older gentleman in the left of the frame. You spoke with him on a park bench one day . . . almost being drawn to talk to him. And what he shared with you that day was so life changing that you have not gone a day in the many years since without thinking about it. And finally, there is God, the backdrop to your whole life. You see His hand and guidance in every area of your life and you thank Him for it. In short, this is an illustration of how humility sees itself in the context of God and others. True humility sees all the people that God has used to play significant roles in our life and thanks Him.
HUMILITY ILLUSTRATION 2: Obviously, this is an image of a large crowd. What may not be so obvious, is you are part of this crowd. Do you see “you”? If not, look further right. Now do you see “you”? You had to look. You were not the most obvious part of the picture, were you? This image and your role in it form another beautiful illustration of humility . . . True humility is not in the picture in some sort of big way. Humility knows (and delights in) the fact that we are one amongst many people in life. True humility doesn’t feel less value because of this or less love from God. It simply sees itself as one amongst many.
PRIDE ILLUSTRATION: Pride forgets all of the people that have played a major role in your life. Pride doesn’t even have God in the picture. All pride sees is “me, me, me.” Pride is literally, utterly blind to the reality of others. It cannot see the forest from the tree of self.
Humility acknowledges all the people that have been part of shaping who you are today. Pride believes it is self-made and is therefore self-focused. Pride is rebellion against God. It tries to take all glory to itself. Yet, all that glory belongs to God. We have to realize that “apart from God, I am nothing.” Pride is offended by “apart from God, I am nothing.” Nevertheless, the fact is, everything we have came from God! (1 Cor. 4:7)
If we think we are totally amazing at work, we should just bear in mind that there are a lot of people that are better than you at your job. You may think “then why did I get the job and not them?” Because they didn’t apply! They already had a job! That is nothing to feel bad about – in fact, it is worthy of rejoicing – it is great to have so many talented and faithful people in so many great professions! You are one of them, but humility simply sees the picture of self accurately. All pride sees is “ME.” All pride sees is itself. Pride is looking into a distorted mirror which magnifies “you” to such degree that you cannot see anyone else, not even God.
Humility is not at all self-debasing, it simply takes into account ALL things accurately. Humility sees things correctly. Through the lens of humility, they way things are . . . are the way they are. The lens of humility is without distortion.