It was so funny. I know a guy… He will remain nameless because his insecurities are such that he couldn’t cope with being named in a blog like this. He honestly came up to me once and said: “I’m being really really humble. You must be able to see it. I used to be full of pride. But no longer. I’m humble.” I almost laughed it was so funny.
I know another guy. He is so gifted and talented it makes me weep. Yet he walks around humbly serving others, without a thought for himself or his career. He loves God and loves people. Oblivious to his own merits, it is not that he is insecure and self-loathing. It’s more that he is genuinely humble.
The contrast between these two guys I know is astounding to me. And the thing that niggles me it that I’m so much more like the first than the second. This is not me trying to be self-deprecating. It’s just reality. I think it’s one of the pitfalls of being in church leadership. It’s really easy to be full of your own opinions and vision and ideas. But I guess we are all works in progress. None of us are perfect yet.
I love the Two Ronnies social class sketch. Not just because it’s really funny and shows up the stratified nature of our society. It’s more because it exposes the ridiculousness of pride. You find yourself immediately warming to the guy who simply says “I know my place”.
Sometimes life knocks the rough edges off of us and my recent health problems are definitely doing that. They remind me of Joseph. You know, the one with the technicoloured dream coat? As a kid, he’s the epitome of precociousness. He’s his dad’s favourite. And he knows it. More than that, he appears to be God’S favourite too, given abilities to be a leader of men and to interpret dreams too.
When somebody thinks they are God’s gift, it rarely ends well. Joseph’s older brothers take this really annoying teenager, chuck him down a well then sell him into slavery. Problem sorted, apart from that they break their old dad’s heart in the process. Then Joseph, as a slave in Egypt, is falsely accused of rape and chucked into prison for years. Fellow inmates promise to help him but chicken out when the opportunity arises, so he’s left rotting there for years.
You know they say that ‘pride comes before a fall’. It probably will not surprise you to know that that’s a good old proverb from the Bible. And Joseph certainly had his fall. His pride was definitely a crack in his pot.
Eventually he gets out of prison and in a meteoric rise ends up as Prime Minister of Egypt, the second in command. He saves the whole nation from a seven year famine by his wise leadership and planning. When the opportunity comes to get his revenge on the brothers who sold him into slavery you see how life has really changed Joseph. Rather than rub their noses in what they’ve done he sees God’s hand in all of it.
“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, that many people should be kept alive”. Genesis 50:20
It’s interesting how it takes several knocks to shape Joseph from pride-filled self-obsessed egotist to being a useful and humble servant of God. No longer is it about how great Joseph is. It’s about the wisdom of God’s plans, even if for Joseph they take him through suffering.
I kind of hope God’s got plans for me too. If this cracked pot will be more useful to Him with a bit of knocking about, then so be it. I know the Lord has a Salvation Plan for the world and it is a real privilege to be part of His team. I want to be able to say without a hint of irony that “I know my place” and it’s as a servant of Jesus Christ.
This is part of the Cracked Pots series of blogs: All about how God uses imperfect people to reveal his glory.