Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Call to Humility

I want to publicly thank John Kehrer for his chapel sermon today and offer two caveats in the process (no this is not a back-handed compliment). Pride is the central sin of humanity and the root of all other sins. Of this I am thoroughly convinced. Caveat #1: We must define pride as positional, not attitudinal. In other words, Jesus would not have had in mind some post-Freudian concept of self-perception. Humility, rather, was one's willingness to condescend to those of lower rank in order to meet their needs. In short, humility is your treatment of the other not your perception of yourself. (Though arrogance is still unbecoming of one redeemed by the Christ). Caveat #2: I am cautious of a general accusation of pride on our campus. First, I'm not sure I am in a position to judge the hearts of so many, especially when our Christian service is so widespread. If humility is, indeed, in service then there are multiple stellar examples of that going on. Moreover the endemic problem of pride (especially ego-centrism) is manifest here in no greater degree than other campuses I've had the privilege of serving--this is, no doubt, a structural danger of the American Collegiate experience. Even so, John's eloquent warning still stands: Pride is cancerous and must never be underestimated or justified. Hence, He must increase and I must decrease.


Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

I appreciate your thoughts. I too loved John's sermon, but question the validity of the statement that "Ozark breeds pride.” Even from personal experience I would say that my time at Ozark has taught me (among other things) that I am prideful both in position and attitude. Was I this way before Ozark? Certainly, but my time here has taught me so. I have also begun to learn what true humility might look like.

Mark, I wonder, in reference to your teaching on true greatness (Mk 10.35-45 and par.) you talk about how Jesus does not shame James and John for desiring the seats of honor. He does shame them for desiring great seats. Is it right for us to desire “great seats”? Ought we to do things even if our primary or only motivation is “a good seat”? I want Jesus to be proud of me, even to honor me, is that right?

March 7, 2006 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

"He does shame them for desiring great seats." Should read, "He does shame them for how they go about getting great seats." Sorry.

March 7, 2006 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...



If I can give you what I'm pretty sure Mark's answer will be:

Yes. Jesus wants us to be great. Moreover, he wants us to want to be great. Which is precisely why he demonstrated how to become great, i.e., absolute theism, or John Yoder's "cross/resurrection paradigm," or, paraphrasing Hauerwas, letting God be God, or, I'll call it, radical patience.

We were, after all, made in God's image. I know I've said repeatedly that that means imago trinitatis, but certainly it also means we were made in some sense to share in his glory. We were meant to be Kings and Queens, as C.S. Lewis divined.

Correct me where I'm wrong, Mark.

March 8, 2006 at 1:35 AM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

Well said, both of you (although I'm not sure that C.S.Lewis 'divined' (poetic nonsense). This is an immensely important issue. If I'm not mistaken (or the previous Mark, who places this at the climax of his gospel), this is the central issue and struggle of the disciple. Although I suspect that for us self-abnegation is a more socially expected cloak--a thin venear over our inexorable self-absorbtion which often takes the form of ego-centric, overt displays of humility.

March 8, 2006 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

In my own life, I have found pride to be easily overlooked, easily acquired, and easy to inflate.

This reminds me of a sermon that Matt Proctor gave a couple years ago. He said that when we focus on our sin and just getting rid of that sin, the temptation increases. Instead of focusing on our sin, we must replace it with something else.

Two years ago, Mike DeFazio said that humility comes from knowing Christ, really knowing Him and His words and acts.

I think that pride is an easy vice because it has no tangible measurement. (Well, it is easy for us to measure other people, but not easy to measure one's self.)

I have found in my own life that it I focus on "trying to be humble," I only become legalistic, nit-picky, then fail.

The times when I have focused on the glory of the Lord exibitied in nature, the people around me, my life, et cetera, are the times when I look back and say, "I was less prideful and selfish."

Perhaps the key is not trying hard to eradicate pride, but elevate the Lord.

March 8, 2006 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...



You nailed it again. So both greatness and humility come from, as Mark would say, "making Jesus famous."

March 8, 2006 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...


And, Mark,

"C.S. Lewis divined" was a point of deference on my part so rare that the appropriate response would have been eschatological astonishment.

March 8, 2006 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger david said...

if pride is the heart of sin, then how is self-loathing prideful? (hatred, deprecation, depression) I think, rather, that selfishness is the heart of it, as in seeing self as somthing untrue, either higher or lower. A wrong view of identity and worth. We ought not see ourselves as above needing God and the community by definition to worship and live better, and we shouldn't see ourselves outside of, or beneath, His value, love, and use. As was mentioned, the designed point is to be looking at God and accept and act on his values and definitions. Sense?
This is interesting in light of the discussion then to say that a worldly view of selfishness (wrong perspective and focus) leads to lonliness. And the 'true' definition of selfishness, doing what is best for you, is to be what you were designed to be (a unique but dependant disciple with a purpose, and a future)... which produces, as a by-product more and better disciples (Jesus Fame?) It makes sense then to say that what is eternally best for me is to be the me that is eternally best for God and my community. True greatness, honor... or selfishness... is this positionally-humble selfless worship, need, and natural transfering of unconditional love (service).

and responding to accusation of a prideful campus by comparing to others or implying some service fruit means things aren't bad seems soft... I think as a disciple I say, yes I am prideful and you don't know the half of it and the battle between that and secret guilt inside as well, but God's love for me is unreasonable and I accpet it and that is why I am loving you. Isn't this one of Paul's major points?

March 11, 2006 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

In reading these comments, my mind took me directly to 2 Cor. 10 and the example of Paul. Here he defends his ministry (which no one now doubts the God-given success given him) in admirable fashion. This should be our approach as we strive to reach more and more people with the gospel of Christ. We compare not God-given success without counting the price involved. Furthermore, we allow the Lord to commend us, and not ourselves, confirming that our work is not in vain. If we boast at all (an outward expression of inward pride) we boast in [and about] the Lord, an in what he has done and is doing. I find this whole chapter extremely helpful. Kudos to Paul who dealt with the same temptations (on a much larger scale).

March 30, 2006 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Bri Zwart said...

Oh, to be emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed, and unkown,
And to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ, and Christ alone!
-taken from Humility by Andrew Murray (p.101)

May 17, 2006 at 4:03 PM  

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