Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Question of True Humility

I have a question.

Recently in our Men's Ministry we read and discussed CJ Mahaney's book "True Humility." It is proving to be challenging eye-opener to areas of pride in my life, subtle areas that for the most part go unnoticed and unchallenged. Today, I read an article by the Christian rapper, Curtis "Voice" Allen entitled "An Emcee's Gentle World." In the article Allen tells how he came to perform at the worship service of Bethlehem Baptist Church last year. It proved to be a most encouraging time for him and his ministry. However, after the news of his performance at Bethlehem spread, so to did the criticism of him, Christian rap, and Bethlehem. Obviously, such criticism hurt Allen, as it would anyone. And yet, in responding to the criticism, Allen tells us that he took the high road and returned good for evil (supposed).

The article is well written. The point of the article is clear and well made. And having spoken with Allen on occasion, I know he has a heart for God and the ministry. So, my question is not a criticism of Allen, only a question of understanding for my own heart and mind. In the article Allen makes the point that he was humble and responded to the criticism with humility. My question is: "Can you say that you were humble and still be humble? Is humility something we see in others and pray that others see in us? Or can we point it out in our own actions for others to take note of? Can we commend our own humility or do we allow others to commend it for us?
I am sure, Allen seeks to be a humble brother. However, I did feel a bit awkward with his telling me how humble he was.

What do you think?

(HT: Challies)

6 comments:

Alando Franklin said...

Anthony,

In reading Curt's rendition of what happened, I don't see him commending his humility, but rather transferring all Glory to God for the evidence of grace that he recieved at that moment to do other than what he was about to do(render evil for evil)

For example, notice the progression as Curt recounts the story:

1) I was angry. I wanted to post some arrogant stuff back at some of those people. I wanted them to know that the majority of their comments were dripping with racism. I wanted them to know that their music preferences aren't necessarily God's preferences. I wanted them to know that I honestly didn't care what they thought.

2) But then I paused.

And then I told him(the critic) how much I wanted to thank him. That's right. I thanked him. I told him I appreciated his desire to protect himself and his flock from what he thought was ungodly. I told him that I disagreed with his judgment that rap is sinful, but I said that I hope I protect my own family the same way he does his.

Doesn't stop there with him commending his humility!

3) Now how did I get from anger and judgment to encouragement and gratitude? It was through THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST!

Notice the appropriate transference of Glory to the right person!


continued
Nothing we do apart from His Spirit is ever motivated by a love for Him or a desire to please Him (Romans 3:10-12, John 15:1-5). Even after salvation and our desire changes, at best our motives are mixed. This is humbling, I know. It is offensive to our pride.

The Lord also worked on my heart as I was beginning to write an angry e-mail to my critics. He showed me that I am not morally superior to them. He reminded me that I have slandered others and gossiped about others many times. How was I any better than these people? I could almost hear these questions, audibly, in my head. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my self-righteousness.

Finally, he ends with being convicted of self-righteousness. I don't see how/where he commended his humlity anywhere, perhaps you can help me see it though.

I can appreciate this type of transparency from Curt, because it pointed to his weakness and Christ strenght. I think this is missing in many men today(even preachers), who seem to have a Theology of Glory, always conquering, always speaking of their victories, always smiling, always pretending to be the standard rather than setting Christ out as the only standard. When was the last time you heard a sermon where the preacher actually confessed his weakness so that Christ may be Glorified rather than telling you how he at one time had a weakness and has now overcome and then instructs you to follow his victory pattern to overcome all your weaknesses?

ajcarter said...

Alando,

I too appreciate Curtis' message in the article. But there is a line in the article that summed up Curtis' actions and caused me to think. He said: "I rarely respond humbly to criticism, but in this case, I was able to. And by God's grace, I'll continue to do so more and more."

For me to write about how humbly I responded to a situation would cause me to think about how proud I might be of my humility. Man, writing on humility is a dangerous and sometimes duplicitous thing.

I am not accusing Curtis of such pride. As I said, this is me thinking out loud about humility. But I do stand by this understanding that humility is not something we point out in our actions, but what we pray others would see in us.

Perhaps the best way to write about humility is not to point out ways in which we have been humble, put to give examples of others who have demonstrated true humility, and spur us on to do the same.

Again, brother, I am just thinking out load. Humility is difficult for us to really grasp, especially since we all are so easily grasped by pride.

Lastly, to your last point. I hear preachers who are open and transparent quite frequently. In fact, I just returned from a Men's Retreat in which that very thing was happening. If God's Spirit is at work in the church then we will see these things, and indeed we do see them because He is. So, while you may not see it as frequently as you may desire, you should be encouraged that God by His Spirit is doing His work.

Jordan said...

Anthony,

Thanks for your ministry and passion. I'm part of a group that is planting a new church in dtown Memphis--with the prayer of seeing the gospel of God overcome every conceivable obstacle in the lives of Memphians. Please pray with us to that end. I learned about you and your ministry from my friend Sherard during my time at BBC.

As for your question about humility, I've wondered the same thing. Can we speak of our own humility with humility? Hmm? Then, as I was preparing to preach last Sunday on elders & deacons I was struck by Acts 20:18-19:

"And when they had come to him, he said to them, 'You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and trials which came upon me throught eh plots of the Jews."

Was it humble for Paul to say that about his own humiity?

Humbly,
Jordan

ajcarter said...

Good point. I will have to think on it for a moment. In the meantime, my first question would be, "Does Paul's example here give us a universal recourse for doing the same?" Just thinking.

By the way, are you familiar with Fellowship Memphis Church?

ajcarter said...

I suppose it could be said that God inspired Paul to make those comments. Maybe He inspired Voice with his comments as well. I can't say. I am certain, however, that He has never inspired me to make that type of statement concerning my humility. Has He ever inspired you to speak of your own humility?

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