The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The challenge of humility

Can we create a community of equals?

A story is told about a man who asked his rabbi why people couldn’t see the face of God. What had happened that they could no longer reach high enough to see God?

Humility means not puttingyourself
Humility means not puttingyourself either above or below others; it means not thinking about yourposition on a scale.
The rabbi, a very old man, had experienced a lot in his life and was very wise. “My son,” he said, “that is not the way it is at all. You cannot see the face of God because there are so few who can stoop that low. How sad this is, but it is the truth. Learn to bend, to bow, to kneel and stoop and you will be able to see God face-to-face.”

This story reminds us of another saying: The door to the kingdom of God is exactly as high as you are when you walk on your knees. If you are standing tall, full of pride, you can’t get through.

Meanwhile, in the marketplace, the opposite behavior is promoted. You can’t get ahead, we’re told, unless you promote yourself, take center stage and claim all the credit for success, even if this means climbing on the backs of your co-workers.

Contrast this approach to the behavior of Jesus. He encouraged his disciples to create a community of equals. After they argued over who was the greatest, he knelt before them and washed their feet. “I am among you,” he said another time, “as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

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February issue


Embracing diversity