In Day One of this Christmas blog series, I challenged you to make a Christmas bucket list. It’s all about “Joining the One,” joining Jesus this Christmas. What do you need to do, experience or ponder this season to gain the greatest soul-satisfaction this Christmas? Today I want to give you a filter for your bucket list…a filter that will help you select the best bucket list items.
The filter is humility. Yep humility. One of the most slippery of character qualities right? Because the moment you think you’re humble…you probably aren’t. On the other hand pride is like bad breath, you never know when you have it! So what is humility? It’s not living life with a low self-esteem. It’s not thinking less of yourself, it’s simply thinking of yourself less often. C.S. Lewis called it a “blessed self-forgetfulness.” It is a compassionate, heroic focus on others. So how many of the items in your bucket list are all about you?
The International Justice Mission is a Christian organization dedicated to setting free the people who are trapped by sex trafficking. Gary Haugen the founder writes,
I vividly remember when I finally had to make a decision to abandon my career at the U.S. Department of Justice to become the first employee of a not-for-profit organization that didn’t yet actually exist called International Justice Mission. I had worked for three years with friends on the idea of IJM and was very excited, in theory, about this dream of following Jesus in the work of justice in the world. But then I had to actually act. I had to walk into the Department of Justice and turn in my badge. I tried to be very brave and very safe. I walked in and asked my bosses for a yearlong leave of absence. They politely declined.
I was suddenly feeling very nervous, afraid. What was I really afraid of? As I thought about it, I feared humiliation. If my little justice ministry idea didn’t work, no one was going to die. If (it was) a bad idea and collapsed, my kids weren’t going to starve. (But)…the fact is I would be terribly embarrassed. Having told everybody about my great idea, they would know that it was a bad idea or that I was a bad leader. …I sensed God inviting me to an extraordinary adventure of service, but deep inside I was afraid of looking like a fool and a loser.
What might you step back from this Christmas because you are afraid of how you will look, or what someone will say? The turning point for Gary came when he asked himself, “When I am [older], do I really want to look back and say, ‘Yeah, I sensed that God was calling me to lead a movement to bring rescue to people who desperately need an advocate in the world, but I was afraid of getting embarrassed and so I never even tried?'”
When he realized that he cared more about the people in need of rescue than he cared about himself, he acted with courage for the cause. In fact courage is simply what humility looks like to others, especially those in need.
Now, I can’t tell you how to gain humility. Often it involves failure, and pain, and even helplessness. But an article by Harry Joiner gave me some thoughts on the signs of a potential lack of humility:
- Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say.
- Being easily offended.
- Hanging onto your rights when giving them up would help others.
- Not being aware that all of the gifts you have are on loan from God.
- Frequently mentioning yourself as an example in conversation.
- Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you.
- Refusing to carry out menial tasks.
- Grieving over what you don’t have…and what others do have.
Philippians 2:1-8 tells us that Jesus humbled himself and came as a servant. Some think Jesus came to earth as a servant to disguise the fact that he was God. What if he came to earth as a servant because a servant was the closest form of God on the earth. If that’s true we can’t join Jesus for our best Christmas ever, if we don’t get humble!
Here is my challenge…filter back through the bucket list and humble-ize it a bit. How will you experience “blessed self-forgetfulness” this season?