Humility isn’t about being a wallflower; it’s about how we position ourselves relative to others, says Rev Mark Cornford.
I love cricket, but I don’t particularly love Shane Warne. He’s an amazing bowler but someone with an ego the size of Uluru. I was at a function a little while ago where I met a guy and got talking about cricket. I mentioned my love of cricket and dislike of Shane Warne. Well, this person had actually met Warney. I think it was at a wedding where Warney was a distant relative. You would think that someone as famous and with the ego of Warney would have no time for ordinary people—but apparently this was not the case.
This guy told me that Warney was hanging out at the bar (of course!) engaging in conversation with whoever happened to be there. Not just telling stories of his famous life but actually just talking with people. He was totally approachable.
We often think of being humble as probably the opposite of Shane Warne, and I am loath to use him as an example of humility, but the story above is also the story of one aspect of what it means to be humble.
Humility is not about being quiet and in the background, but about how you see other people compared to yourself. As it says in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think”. In the story above, Shane Warne didn’t think himself as above listening and talking to ordinary people. He positioned himself at the bar as one of them—not a distant superstar.
This idea of “positioning” is central to humility. How do we position ourselves in regards to others? Do we think we deserve acknowledgement, respect or admiration? When we are concerned about how others perceive us and not about how we can love and serve them, we are not being humble. As a church this also has implications for how we position ourselves in society. Do we desire acknowledgement, deference and brand recognition? Or do we position ourselves alongside those who need Good News and love and serve them regardless of how we are seen?
Mark is Project officer for Christian formation at the Uniting Church Queensland Synod.
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