I stumble my way through life. Recently at a conference, I tripped down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs stood the board of this organization, where they all turned to me. One of them said, “Beth. Beth can be our next President Elect.” This is my life. I struggled in school, but obtained my doctorate degree. My selfishness impacts my marriage, but I have a wonderful marriage. I could give countless examples. And while my struggles are frustrating, they are helpful in my battle with pride and serve as constant reminders that I am with God and His grace.
Pride is at the core of what hurts our relationships and divides the body of Christ. We’ve witnessed its many forms—obsession with notoriety and praise (titles, being right, possessions, numbers, sales, rankings, gifts, etc.). We see pride even in our care for the “least of these” or humble circumstances (serving the poor and inflicted, living in simplicity, victim mentality, etc.). While some are noteworthy accomplishments to celebrate, there’s a tendency to focus on outward behaviors and appearances rather than inward character that produces grace and humility.
One major challenge is that we can’t simply decide to be humble, by doing so we become prideful as “I” chose to be humble. Humility is gained by being “with God”, not only in our strengths, but also in gifts of weakness and humiliation, where we receive His grace. Dallas Willard and other spiritual thinkers and writers have given much context in the practicing of spiritual disciplines in order to be “with God”. While disciplines are noteworthy, they can also become a source of pride, by how much one reads, studies, fasts, serves, celebrates, etc., still focusing on the outward.
Experiencing humility is not doing, thinking, speaking and writing for, about, of, and to God. It is resting in His presence where we find joy and peace in communion, accountability, and grace—with God.
"God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)
Dr. Beth Ackerman is the Associate Dean, School of Education, at Liberty University.
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