Paul wrote: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
This verse and the few surrounding it are the precursor to what is known as the “Christ Hymn,” calling us to be of the “same mind” as Christ Jesus, imitating Christ in all ways, including and especially imitating the humility of Christ.
I have been in a new ministry for about 10 months now. We have danced to a new song – sometimes I’m leading, sometimes the faith community leads. We strive forward, and then we pause. I’m learning from them, and they from me. But sometimes, and I think we can all admit to this, the dance is awkward, as we try to figure out where each is leading.
For me, I am often battling, if you will, an internal heart-sense of whether the direction I am leading us is from self ambition, or if it is truly from God. I so desire to lead a life that honors God’s call in my heart and that of those I shepherd. One that ultimately is a life of humility, regarding others as better than myself. But I know that self pride and doing things “my way” can and does get in the way. And so this is my fervent prayer – that God guide my thoughts, and that what I do is to the glory of God and not my myself.
Throughout my life I have come back to this prayer; like discerning the call to go back to seminary for my M.Div in preparation for Ordination. It took several years for me to discern if being a pastor was my idea, or God’s. It took the community around me, my family, friends, colleagues, and faith community to help me hear God’s voice. Today I stand blessed to have the opportunity to pastor a community of God fearing people.
So I wonder if when St. Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves,” that this is indeed a community event. That it is those around me that call me into being of the same mind as Christ. That it is the community around me that holds me accountable to be full of humility. That it is the the loving community around me that reminds me that I am no better or worse.
There have been times in the past 10 months that I have failed and disappointed especially the ones I am called to shepherd. So perhaps the truest test of humility is to ask forgiveness, and to once again, join in the dance, together.