Tuesday, April 3, 2007

P4E.017 The Humble Improve

Starbucks has an ad campaign of quotes from people (some famous, some not) on their paper cups called "The Way I See It." The Way I See It #12 is by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz Musician. His quote is "The humble improve."

Humility is an elusive character quality. As soon as you think you have it, you've lost it. The more you believe you are, the less you truly are humble.

The larger issue for me is that humility is not a character quality that I value highly enough to pursue diligently. Of course, I can blame some of it on the culture. Our culture doesn't value being humble either. Anything but humble. But hey, if Starbucks can quote Wynton Marsalis about being humble, then I can't even blame it entirely on the culture. No, in the end, it's me.

Marsalis' quote rings true because one opposite of "humble" is "arrogant." If I feign that I know it all (because obviously, I don't) then I leave no room for improvement. Another opposite of "humble" is "invulnerable." If I have and wield power in such a way that I let everyone around me know that I can't be hurt, but I have every capability to hurt you and I can and I will, that is the opposite of humble. Jesus brought little children before His disciples and told the disciples to be like them. Why? I think one of the reasons was that the children truly were vulnerable and they knew it. The children knew that they held no power in the company of adults and were at their mercy.

It's difficult for me to consider others more important than myself. No place else does this manifest itself more clearly than when I drive. "My car is better than yours. What a piece of junk!" "I have more power than you do" "What, are you special?" "My destination is more important than yours." "My time is more valuable than yours." "Where did you learn to drive? Of course, I'm an excellent driver." "Get out of MY lane!" "OUTTA MY WAY, MAN!!!!" These are all thoughts that go through my mind or come out of my mouth when I'm driving.

I need some way to consistently present itself so that I can practice considering someone else better than myself. To consider their needs before my own. Someone to become vulnerable to. I need help. Hmmmm, let's see. My spiritual mentor, Ken Nair, says "Could God be so uncomplicated as to call the help we need, "help"?" You mean my wife? Really? Really. Well, my wife can help me be humble if I allow God to use her to help me that way. Most of the time I'm pretty defensive, though. And, my wife is always there and she provides a constant opportunity to consider her needs before my own. It's worth a shot to improve and become a more Christ-like man. What do you think?

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim


  1. And yet it's good to be a defensive driver. :) Funny how the context of a word makes all the difference.

  2. Kim, Great thoughts as usual.

    I like how you're considering this, and right down where you live.

    And yes, our wives can be the best help in improving humility in us, recognizing and acknowledging the truth about ourselves, if we'll just be open to that.

    I've improved much over the years in that, though still am working on it of course.

  3. LL, ha ha, yes! I can be pretty offensive in being a defensive driver.

    Ted, this has been an epoch in my life: the very thought that God foreknew that we men would need "help" and created that help in the form of our wife. Who knew?