When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
Worldly people often sneer at monks, priests and nuns and say "That's easy for them! They don't have to fight for their bread every day like us!" As lay people, we can take pride in our accomplishments and think that we are tougher than people who have "escaped the world." We can begin to consider ourselves as more important than others, and more capable of dealing with the "hard realities of life." This is called Pride, the worst sin of all.
If we work in the Church, we may be tempted to examine the importance of what we do relative to the work of others in the Church. We may begin to think that we "own" the ministry we are engaged in. Even our pastor may be afraid to dislodge us, because he needs the help, and doesn't want to lose us. We may become petty tyrants over altar cloth or prayer services. We may even lose sight of our Lord in our obsession with His work.
In humility, we do not minimize our work, but we do evaluate it in the "big picture." If we are successful in business, we may realize that we have a duty to be fair and honest as a witness to the worldly. In humility, we acknowledge that the cloistered brothers and sisters support us by their prayers constantly, as they pray for the whole Church. We offer our help humbly, to the Church, to the young people starting out in business, to our customers. We remember that all good comes from God, and that He can take it away, too. We are stewards of the money we receive, and we must spend it as God desires, not just for our own entertainment.
Performing Church work with humility brings joy to us and to others. We take pleasure in knowing that our pastors or other leaders can ask us to change times, locations, methods or duties without worrying about our reaction. "Remember that he whom you serve is the Lord." This does not mean that we never say "no", but that "no" comes from a good reason, not from pride or habit. We may feel that a change in the time of our service would impact our family in a bad way, or that some practice will be irreverent. Honest and open communication in a spirit of Love really works among holy people. If you are not blessed with holy leaders, do the best you can. Whenever possible, "defer to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Humility puts us in a right relation to God and others. This is an essential starting point for service in the Church.
Copyright © 2004 William E. Rushman
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