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. (Matthew 11:29)
I went to a professional conference recently and met some leaders in education. After the main presentation, there was mingling time, during which I mentioned to the moderator about my interest in the latest pedagogical innovation. She pointed out someone in the crowd who had done some respected research and practice in that area, and I made a beeline for this person and engaged her in conversation.
I was excited to talk to this person. I thought that surely, as a leader in the field, she would be generous and kind in helping me improve my practice. But after a few minutes of listening to her speak, it became clear to me that this person was only interested in one thing: self-promotion. Her demeanour and words screamed, “know it all” and “I’m not interested in helping you, but only in letting you know how great I am”.
I felt a huge, wrought iron gate shut down in my spirit. Repulsion.
I have come to realize that the least attractive quality in a person is the inclination for unrestrained self-promotion. We are all susceptible. That tickle in our gut that needs to be scratched – that insuppressible urge to let the world know how smart we are, how accomplished we are, how sought-after we are. It is a compulsion that goes deep – that need of the world’s affirmation even when everything in our spirit knows that we should seek the affirmation of only One.
We live in a competitive world where everyone strives to stake their flag in a pock-marked canvas. Everyone trying to get the best job, win the best spouse, buy the nicest prom dress, out-friend each other, one-up each other. We are exhausted by the rat race that pervades every aspect of our lives. No wonder my spirit rails when I am confronted with yet another person who tramples my true, God-given worth by asserting their own, “superior” value, whether it be by good looks, scholarly degrees, or properties owned.
And the most attractive quality? Humility. It is the gossamer bridal veil that softly shrouds the stunning beauty just beneath. It is when Jesus befriended common fishermen or blessed prostitutes and dined with tax collectors. When He came down from Heaven to mingle in the fithly human current. That is the humility, the kindness that wins souls.
When we are in the presence of He who is “lowly” or “humble”, our souls find rest. It is then that our heads are anointed with oil and our tables are prepared in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5). Our cup overflows.
When we have been in the presence of someone who is humble, our spirit knows it. It is the person who focuses on your needs, and offers just enough information about themselves as necessary to fulfill those needs. Somehow, you walk away feeling lighter, brighter, more whole. Likewise, when we have been in the presence of someone of a contrary spirit, we also know it, although it is not always easy to put our finger on it.
Praise be to Jesus who shrouds me in His humility. He is my Crown and my Gown.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Lord, make me one who helps to fill another’s cup to overflowing. Amen.