Humility is a difficult thing to define. Most people say, “I know it when I see it.” We are offended when we see arrogance, and we like it when arrogant people get what’s coming to them.
On a vacation to Australia, a Texas farmer meets an Aussie farmer and starts talking to him about his farm. The Aussie takes him to see his big wheat field, but the Texan wasn’t impressed. “We have wheat fields that are twice as large as this one,” he told the Aussie. The Aussie farmer drives him around the ranch and shows off his big herd of cattle. “Oh, our longhorns are at least twice as big as these,” the Texan bragged. The Aussie farmer is getting frustrated when the Texan notices a herd of kangaroos hopping across a field. “What on earth are those?” he asks. The Aussie turns to him with an astonished look. “Don’t you have any grasshoppers in Texas?”
I recently had the opportunity to take some of my boy scouts for a five day, fifty-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. We were in the rugged mountains of North Carolina’s Nantahala Gorge. As our final destination came into view the boys were exultant. A few proclaimed, “We conquered the Appalachian Trail!” Didn’t they have bragging rights since very few teenagers even hike a small section of the trail?
The next day I met a young man, twenty-five-years-old, who hiked all 2,190 miles the year before. I asked him how he felt when he finished. He said, “I’m not sure, I’m still processing what it means.” I then asked if he felt like he’d conquered the trail? He said, “Oh no, the trail is still there, and it taught me so many lessons. That is what I am processing.”
I liked his response. I suppose he had bragging rights, but he chose not to exercise them. It showed a beautiful humility. I shared those thoughts with my scouts to help them put things into perspective. No one really conquers the Appalachian Trail. It is a beautiful, rugged, challenging gift from God to test and teach great lessons of life for those who choose to walk its paths. One of those great lessons is humbly realizing what you have accomplished, and what you have not accomplished when you do something others might think is impressive. You may have earned bragging rights, but it is probably better to let it go.
I asked the scouts to consider the perfect example of humility given to all of us. It is eloquently stated in Philippians 2:5-8. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Jesus certainly had bragging rights, but He was much more concerned about humbly saving the world from its sins, evil, and the fear of death. God exalted His name above every name because of His humility.
Having the same mind as Christ is an impossible challenge, but we will get very close at times, and then we will have a more mature understanding of what true humility is. I recommend placing yourself in very difficult situations that test and stretch you. Those are amazing places to learn more about humility.
When was the last great challenge you faced? Was it physical, emotional, or spiritual? Were you sorry you had to go through it when it was over, or did you find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life? Do you have any opportunities to say, “Yes” to new challenges in the near future? Is it your desire to be more humble? How can your faith in Jesus Christ help you do that?
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