A few weeks ago I worked with the U.S. Army conducting training for our Homeland Response Forces and had the opportunity to discuss the temperament of General Officers with a couple of junior officers. We started talking about people who were genuine and approachable. One of these officers told a story about a retired 3 star General who lives in the same area that he does. This retired General drives his old pick up truck around town, wears blue jeans and spends his time working his farmland. This Captain also spoke about a General that he once worked for who would take off his rank insignia after his “official duties” and visit with the soldiers, play cards and eat with them when he was in Afghanistan and Iraq; rank was not important to him.
Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance and is a very unusual trait to find in people these days. An entire generation of people has been raised in an era in which “everyone gets a trophy” and they never learned about being humbled by a loss because everyone was equal. Being humble is something that we all can use a little more of and put into practice a little more often. We should strive to care more about others than we do ourselves.
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:4
Being humble isn’t limited to those in leadership positions; it applies to all of us. When we start thinking that we are better than our neighbors or our co-workers, we have veered off track. Matthew is, of course, quoting Jesus here who is speaking to His disciples and follows this verse with “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Jesus is telling us not to take ourselves too seriously and to be humble. Small children have do not developed the “skill” of being boastful or full of themselves until later in their development. Children are compassionate, listen to their parents, don’t think or speak poorly of others and usually don’t knowingly sin. We can learn a lot from them.
Jesus is telling us that we are not the most important thing in this world – to stop being so full of ourselves that we think we are the center of attention. We should humble ourselves, set our focus on God and accept more people rather than judging them. When we receive the most humble among, we receive Jesus. It isn’t a competition for things and accomplishments; it’s about being good children of God. Humility doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of what you’ve done but it does mean that what you’ve done doesn’t define you. No one will care what you do here on earth if all you do is serve your own needs. God wants us to serve each other and in order to do that, we must humble ourselves.