I was looking for a book.  Not for me, for a friend. I pulled a few out of my bookshelf and perused them. I even read a few chapters of one that had a promising title.  But each chapter seemed like another lap around the same track.  After a few minutes, I had read enough.  Six times.

I opened another, simply titled “Humility.”  It had a “50% Off” sticker plastered against its face.  Probably the real reason why I bought it.  It was a deal.

It was Friday evening and I was doing nothing. So I started at the preface. And I read this:

“When I look back on my own religious experience, or on the church of Christ in the world,  I stand amazed at the thought of how seldom humility is sought after as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus. In preaching and living, in the daily activities of the home and social life, in the more special fellowship with Christians, in the direction and performance of work for Christ–there is much proof that humility is not considered the cardinal virtue. It is not considered the only root from which grace can grow, and the one indispensable condition of true fellowship with Jesus.  The accusation that those who claim to be seeking the higher holiness have not always done so with increased humility is a call to all earnest Christians to prove that meekness and loneliness of heart are the chief marks by which they follow the meek and humble Lamb of God.”

And I kept reading. My friend didn’t need this book. I needed this book.

And despite his quiet, authoritative style, Andrew Murray held my attention and I kept turning page after page.  I wanted to read it all quickly. And slowly.  I wanted to see the whole picture and yet I wanted to be able to ponder each thought.

It was not a long book.  Still, not many people could write 124 meaningful pages about one word.  Unlike the first book I read, I didn’t feel like I was going round and round in a sea of anecdotes and suggestions.  I felt like Murray was just taking me step by step to a deeper understanding of the Scripture that teach us this elusive concept.

Here are a few key thoughts–discounted down to my own words:

Humility is the essence of discipleship.  It is a necessary ingredient of love, joy, peace, and patience–no, of every fruit of the spirit.

Humility is not about what we pray, what we sing, or even what we think.  Humility is how we treat others–difficult family members, irritating co-workers, and useless customer service reps.  Humility is the act of placing others above ourselves; of taking on the form of a servant.

Humility is rare and difficult because it requires the laying down of our lives.  It’s unnatural.   We repeatedly choose to believe the lies perpetuated by pride–that our happiness will come from standing up for our rights and being the center of our own worlds.

Humility brings eternal rewards.  Murray says it this way:

He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’  Jesus Himself is the proof of the truth of these words.  He is the pledge of the certainty of their fulfillment to us.  Let us take His yoke upon us and learn from Him, for He is ‘meek and lowly in heart.’ (Matt. 11:29).  If we are willing to stoop to Him, as He has stooped to us, He will yet stoop to each one of us again, and we will find ourselves equally yoked with Him.  As we enter deeper into the fellowship of His humility, and either humble ourselves or bear the humbling of men, we can count on the Spirit of His exaltation, ‘the spirit of glory and of God’ (1 Pet. 4:14), to rest upon us.  The presence and the power of the glorified Christ will come to those who are of a humble spirit.  When God can again have His rightful place in us, He will lift us up.”

It is not a thriller or a mystery, but I have already read it twice in the last two weeks and I probably need to read it about 600 more.  Humility has helped me tap into the root of grace and, in turn, let go of hurt, pride, anger, and jealousy.

I never did find a book for my friend, but for some reason, I felt compelled to share this one with you.  And if Andrew Murray’s Humility isn’t your style, I’ll also share this poem (attributed to Beth Moore) which paints a vivid picture of the alternative in every-day English:

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.



I read his e-mail; and I was ticked.

First of all, he was wrong. What he was telling me was bogus and I knew it.

But it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it that had me irritated. He had baited me for a fight and I was inches away from taking his bait.

I went back and re-read my prior e-mail to him. Looking at it subjectively, I had to admit that even though I hadn’t meant for it to sound ugly, someone who didn’t know that or know me might have understood it as ugly. So he had responded by taking things down a notch. And now, here I was, tempted to take us lower still.

There is a word for it. A five letter word that starts with a “P.” Proverbs tells us that only by pride comes contention. And in the legal world and in the real estate world, there is ton of it—both pride and contention—that is.

And sometimes, I get sucked right in. Like right now, when a realtor is trying giving me a legal lecture. I don’t need a realtor to tell me what the law is. That’s what I went to school for. What did he go to school for? Interior design? Auto repair? Landscaping? Tell me about those things.

When we are called on to “zealously” represent a client and to negotiate with other professionals, it is so easy to get caught in a battle where words become barbs and barbs become hooks that we use to drag others down.

I couldn’t count the number of days that have been ruined by a nasty exchange with another professional as we both try to do our jobs. I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been chewed up, I’ve been lectured, I’ve been educated, I’ve been blamed, I’ve been accused, and I’ve been just generally provoked.

And sometimes, I’ve fallen right in the trap. (I never create the trap, of course. Just fall in. Like the innocent victim of…well…of pride.)

Our egos, or rather, our pride doesn’t want the other side to get the final say. We want to win. Unfortunately, there is nothing to be won usually; just something to be lost—a relationship, a reputation, a testimony.

I have often regretted my words: what I said, and even more often, how I said them. In fact, the longer I work, the more I recognize the wisdom of kind words.

The problem with kinder, gentler, more peaceful responses is that they often require more humility than I have. I’m often not willing to be told I was wrong when, in fact, I could make a good case that I was right. I am often not willing to be told what I already know without saying, “I already knew that.” I’m often not willing to listen to someone else’s idea without saying, “I already thought of that.” I’m often not willing to take the blame that I believe belongs to someone else. Just writing these thoughts has brought back many things that came off my tongue that I could line up as “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B,” and so on through the alphabet.

Mother Teresa is often quoted as instructing us to “speak kind words and receive kind echoes.” And she is right. If you live in a hollow tube. Personally, I would say that speaking kind words does not guarantee a kind response, although it greatly increases the chances.

Unfortunately, the chances are still good that sometimes, kind words will be greeted with an unkind response. Sometimes, my best effort at peacemaking will be misunderstood or just plain rejected.

And sometimes, I will still have to give orders, make offers, and tell truths that other people don’t want to hear. Sometimes I will have to ask people to do projects they don’t want to do; follow up with people who don’t want to be followed up with; change my plans and other peoples’ plans; and even reject their ideas. Sometimes I will be right and they won’t see it. And sometimes, I will be wrong and they will point it out.

So regardless of what I do and say, I will probably never win a popularity contest.

But I’m not trying to win a popularity contest.

I’m trying to please an Audience of One. I need to make sure the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be acceptable in His sight.

Regardless of what the other guy does. Regardless of who understands what. Regardless of how the other side chooses to respond.

And that is why it requires humility. Because Mother Teresa is only partly right. Kind words won’t always get you what you want. Not even echoes of what you want. There is no selfish reason to be nice all the time.

So this is me reminding myself to choose kind words—not for the kind echoes—but for the One Listener who is more concerned that I learn Christ-like humility than whether I have a cute post, a funny tweet, or a winning argument. Then, no matter what, the echoes of my words will be true and right…and they will probably be kind.