Sunday, November 04, 2007

convicting

This is going to be brief; I'm exhausted and need to go to bed. It's been a busy weekend. But I wanted to write about this while it's fresh in my mind and on my heart.

At church right now, Pastor Mark is preaching through Philippians. This week's text was Philippians 2:1-11, which, at its core, is about humility. And boy, was it ever convicting, especially verses 3 and 4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This is so, so hard for me. I feel like it's something God's been trying to teach me, in one way or another, for quite a while. It's kind of like what I talked about at the end of this post: that my entire attitude needs to shift from one of selfishness and self-focus (almost all of which is made up of self-righteousness and pride) to one of selflessness and humility.

The question we were left with at the end of the sermon tonight was this: where does your pride lie? What area of your life are you prideful about? How do you need God to change you?

And the thought that immediately came to mind was that I am prideful and arrogant at work -- not about what I do, or that I do such an amazing job. More that I am impatient with people to whom I should be providing customer service (especially people who have the same questions or problems over and over and over again) and while I may not be mean or snarky to their face, I am certainly not being the humble example of Christ I need to be. And, nine times out of ten, even if I'm polite to someone's face, I am mean or snarky behind their back regardless.

"How can people be so DUMB sometimes?!" I will rant to one co-worker after hanging up the phone following a frustrating conversation.

"Why can't anyone do anything right around here?!" I'll rage to another.

"How can you NOT KNOW that Suite 2300 is on Floor 23. DUH!" I'll mumble to myself after someone asks me for directions to a suite in the building.

And that attitude of superiority and of frustration with people is not ok. Even if I'm kind to their face, or at the bare minimum polite, if I turn around and badmouth someone after they are gone, it's just as bad, if not worse, than saying what I think of them in the moment. My heart is corrupt and prideful either way, and that is the main problem.

My friend Marci, from whom I am always learning (she is one of those iron-sharpens-iron people in my life), mentioned once in the course of conversation that she used to have a similar attitude of frustration and impatience with the people she dealt with during her workday. But she, too, realized the toxicity of this kind of behavior and prayed that God would change her heart, and He did.

Ever since I heard her say that a while back, I realized I need to do the same thing. For a time, I was diligent in praying every day, over and over, that God would soften my heart toward the people I encounter in my job, and it worked. But as soon as I stopped praying, stopped trying, I found (and still find) myself right back there where I was: negative, prideful, and even bitter at times.

Pastor Mark said tonight that humility is a process. It's not something that we pride-filled humans can fully achieve in this life; we can only pray for God to give it to us and then strive toward it. That idea is comforting, in a way: to know that I am not going to be made perfect in this area while I'm here on the earth. It's the same idea in Hebrews 10:14: by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. I'm saved, but I'm not fully holy yet, just in the process of being made holy. That idea isn't an excuse to go on sinning, but it's good to know that it is a process and that there is grace available when I don't always get it right -- because I know there are going to be plenty of times that I will fail.

My prayer this week -- and into the future as well -- is going to be that God would grant me humility through his grace, so that He would be glorified, not I.

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