Whew! My daughter & I just returned from a whirlwind week in the Philippines. As always, I was blown away by the overwhelming love poured out from these amazing people. God is moving so mightily on the island of Mindanao! I can't even begin to fully express the joy in my heart seeing so many attributes of our Creator & Savior throughout His people on this trip. My specific purpose was to join D'Ette Owen in teaching the Character curriculum from the School of Worship. I find it quite ironic that while teaching on pride & humility, I was completely humbled. Though I was going to teach on behalf of the School of Worship, God obviously had so much in store for us. This picture is from our last session. It ended with a foot washing of over 150 people. AWESOME!!
As a father, seeing my daughter grow in faith & maturity was worth the trip alone. She truly came out of her shell. I was so proud! I look forward to many more missional opportunities with her & her younger sister in the future.
Some of you may know that I've been working on writing a book for a while now. I always find that a 12 hour plane ride usually affords me some extra time to work on it. I thought I'd give you a little snippet from a chapter entitled "Humble Pi". It's a good example of what was taught throughout our week in Jasaan.
Though I miss our family in the Philippines, I'm glad to be back with my families both at home & at Faith.
In my office, just in sight of my peripheral vision, lies what seems to be a basic bowl and pitcher. Inside that bowl lies a small white towel. To the average office guest it would appear to be one of many “decorations” that make up the feng shui of my office. I’m very much into symbolism. Within my office you can find anything from a dead plant (yes, it means something) to a statue of Gollum, some of my kids artwork and even a sketch drawn by my mother. She is an interior designer, and I too am cursed with the affliction of orderly chaos. So what does this simple bowl, pitcher and towel mean? I defer to these words…
“So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” -John 13:4-5
This speaks to me in a profound way. There’s something very powerful when people in authority step down from their post to attend to those seemingly beneath them. Obviously, due to my faith, this speaks to me in an even stronger manner. What I see, is the God of the universe stepping down out of heaven to clean his dirty children. Why would he do that? Why would he do something that he obviously didn’t have to do? Why should this speak to me so much?
Let’s get into this idea of authority. Each of us has authority in some area of our lives, be it at work, at home or even in our friendships. It is not a word of dogmatic pressure towards others, quite the opposite. It’s a word that speaks to how we care for those around us who need guidance. Let’s look at the verse just prior to the foot washing…
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” -John 13:3
With this knowledge, don’t you think that Jesus had every opportunity to get puffed up and “lord it over” his disciples? I mean really, what would you do if God handed his power to you? He could have made everyone bow at HIS feet! But no, he chose to bow at theirs instead, to humble himself. There it is! There’s the word we’ve been looking for…HUMBLE. Such a non-threatening word, yet incredibly powerful when put into practice. This can’t be just another in a string of mundane words in the English language. It must be something more!
Let’s dissect it a bit. Dictionary.com’s first definition states…
not proud or arrogant; modest.
Folks, I’m a musician. By its very nature, pride is around every corner. Modesty does not come naturally. I’ll never forget, early on in my ministry when the drummer in our band came to me with a serious issue. He had lost the joy of serving. In the end, he left the band with these words that changed me forever. “It just feels like a job”. I know you’re thinking, what does this have to do with humility? I had been caring more about the “sound” than the person. Looking back on it, it’s clear that my pride had gotten in the way. From that point forward, people came first. Sometimes that means that tough decisions need to be made, but those decisions have always been worth it. And here’s the blessing...the “sound” has just gotten better and better!
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 14:11
Humility…It’s not all about me, or what I can offer. In my job, I serve on a team. What amazing blessings would be lost if I did the job alone!
I learned a hard lesson from my drummer friend that thankfully got my attention. Had I continued down the path of “my way or the highway", I very likely wouldn’t be where I am today, an incredibly blessed individual.
The definition of pride is…
“A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind, or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc…”
Does any of that give you a warm fuzzy? Of course not! If anything, you have just thought about that one person in your life who fits those words. Is that who you want to be? Is that person you? We must always strive to be persons of humility, always willing to put others above our own selfish desires.
Did you know that Pride began in the heavenly realms? Ezekiel 28 records The Lord paralleling the life of King Tyrus to that of a certain "covering" angel named Lucifer. In the King James Bible it describes this angel as covered in jewels and even instruments. Verse 15 says this...
"Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."
It goes on to say "thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty". And of course we know the end of the story...
"...thou hast sinned:therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God:and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub"
To this day, Lucifer is the "father of lies", who "prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Seeing as it's the very sin that caused him to be cast out of heaven, it would stand to reason that pride will be one of the greatest weapons in his arsenal.
We've now talked about humility, and it's antithesis, pride. Now onto something that seems to make no sense in this discussion...Pi. Pi? Yes, Pi! And no, even though I’m from Texas, I don’t mean Pie. As good as a warm peach pie is, my reference to Pi is much better in the long run (and running on the treadmill is not required). Hang with me for a moment while I seek to unwrap the connection. Once you’ve got your humble heart in check, the next step will come naturally. This is always a work in progress. Surround yourself with smart people, way smarter than you! Are you beginning to get the connection to Pi now? Let me explain.
Mathematical symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. 3.141592
I don’t know about you, but mathematics has never been my strong suit. Therefore, Pi was one of those concepts that always seemed to epitomize higher thinking. A team of "higher thinking" people is what I always strive to surround myself with. It’s incredibly freeing!! Raising up a team of gifted people, empowering them to use their gifts to the best of their abilities, frees me up to do what I do best. In fact, it frees everyone up to do their best work. No egos, just a wonderful synergy that ultimately serves our God and His body better. Just this morning I was putting checks together for my staff. I was almost giddy as I thought about how far each of them had come. Giving them this small token of what they’re truly worth is way more exciting to me than any paycheck I could ever receive!
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.”
This verse speaks to me in several different ways. One such way is just what I've been saying, surround yourselves with “wise” people. Also, as the leader (you are a leader, you may just not know it yet), you are called to be a “wise” voice amidst the loud voices that were spoken of in the first chapter. I’m going to leave this topic for another chapter, but let’s just say that people are following you for a reason. How seriously are you taking that?
Verse 21 is a reference to the blessings of God. Simply put, follow His Word & you will be blessed. I'm not trying to get all preachy here on what has often become a grossly manipulated idea of prosperity. It's just that each of us, if you haven’t already, will go through a series of tough, extremely painful times in our lives. All I’m saying is that the Word of God is very clear that His blessings are richly poured out on those that LOVE Him & share that love with others.
Let's wrap this one up with one final definition. This one just happens to be my own. I hope you will embrace it as yours.
Humilty that brings forth the circle of life.
You're all singing Lion King now aren't you?