October 17, 2021

Humility Listens and Learns

Written by Boyd Bailey

We live the Christian life in the same way we became a Christian, by grace through faith.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 17, 2021

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8

As a young pastor in my late 20’s I drove my modest Nissan 210 into downtown Atlanta for work, leaving early to miss traffic, smartly dressed in a suit with a desire to serve people. One of my first days on the job at a large downtown church, I sheepishly found a hot cup of coffee among the maintenance team who were socializing and planning their day. Eddie, (who played Jesus in our annual Passion play) who I eventually came to know and admire for his walk with Christ and his excellent work ethic—gave me some very wise counsel at the outset of my service at the church.

“Boyd”, he said, “Most of the ‘shirts’ (a somewhat slang term for the ministers on staff) wait until the last minute to request a room, audio visual equipment, and chairs. No problem with one isolated request, but when several leaders forget to give us lead time, then the quality of our service suffers and we feel taken for granted. We are expected to respond to every whim of those who are unprepared and seemingly uninterested in me as a person or my success as a co-worker.” Then Eddie made a statement that stuck in my heart, “Boyd, what makes me feel respected and valued is when the ‘shirts’ plan ahead, communicate and give me proper notice for their room requests, so I am able to serve them with energy and excellence!” Eddie taught me a life lesson: a humble leader shows respect by listening to and learning from others.

In our Scripture reference above, Jesus “humbled himself.” The Son of God chose humility so he could serve other human beings. Instead of taking advantage of His divinity for Himself, He emptied Himself for the sake of us. Wow! Humility. Service. Obedience. Death. Salvation. The humility of Jesus is the standard we aspire to as followers of Jesus. J.O.Y. means serve Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third, all with a humble heart. Humility joyfully submits to serve. 

Pride and humility cannot coexist, so the pride of self-conceit and superiority must be confronted by humility. These two pride varietals are like voluminous vines that choke all forms of life-giving vegetation. C.S. Lewis exposes pride as a major obstacle to knowing God, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Gratefully, humility is the gateway to grace: for God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud (James 4:6). Since we are to live the Christian life in the same way we became a Christian—by grace through faith—it’s imperative we humbly and daily infuse our souls with God’s grace. If we think we are humble we are not, but we can rest—knowing humble Jesus lives in us, with us and through us. Humility happily defers in love, “How can I honor you above myself?” We walk in humility as we value others above themselves, quietly listening and learning. 

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).


Heavenly Father, grow my heart of humility to intently listen and wisely learn, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.


What relationship do I need to become a student of, examining their experiences and expertise?

Related Reading

Deuteronomy 5:1; Proverbs 1:5; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Worship Resource

Kristene DiMarco: I am No Victim


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