Dr. Lloyd Kim, the Coordinator of Mission to the World, spoke on the topic of “pride vs. humility” in the realm of ministry and the support raising process. We wanted to share a summary below of what we learned from him during our training, as it is applicable to many areas of life.
Pride is pretty easy to spot in others, but not so easy to see in ourself. C.S. Lewis talks about pride being inherently competitive. We aren’t proud that we are rich. We are proud that we are richer. We aren’t proud that we are smart, we are proud that we smarter. Pride comes from a competitive heart that wants to somehow be above others. In ministry, and in our personal lives, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others to see where we stack up. Pride doesn’t discriminate, either. It masters those who are good at everything and it even masters those who are failing. You would think that failure would lead to humility -but man- it doesn’t! It usually leads to bitterness because we compare what we think we deserve with the successes of others.
If our successes and failures lead to pride or bitterness, how is humility ever possible? In 2 Kings 5:1-15, we read about Naaman, a great commander of the Syrian army (think powerful leader, well-respected, successful, winning at life). However, despite his glorious status, Naaman was a leper. Naaman’s wife had a servant girl (think powerless, slave, child, held captive, nameless) from Israel who said that a prophet there would be able to heal him. This nameless slave girl believed the words spoken by the prophet.
So, Naaman decides to go to Israel with a letter to the king, demanding to be healed. Eventually he arrives with his fancy chariots and horses in front of the prophet Elisha’s house. Elisha sends out a messenger to tell Naaman to go bathe in the Jordan seven times in order to be healed. And guess what? Naaman angrily refuses this advice because of his pride, thinking someone of his stature deserved a big show of a fancy miracle. He actually says, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
We are Naaman. We are obsessed with greatness and ruined by pride. Whether we are failing or succeeding, we are determined to prove that we are somehow above others. Yet we have a God who makes nameless servant girls the great heroes of His stories.
Eventually, Naaman’s servant (again with the servants!!) convinces him to follow Elisha’s instructions. Naaman bathes in the Jordan seven times, and “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (vs. 14). The great commander of the Syrian army is now described with the same words as the nameless little servant girl at the beginning of the story. Naaman, after emerging “like a little child,” refers to himself as a servant and testifies that the God of Israel is the only God in all the earth. He was transformed because he believed the words spoken by the prophet.
How do we battle against our pride or bitterness and stop comparing our lives, ministries, families, careers, gifts, abilities, and performance to others? By believing the words spoken by the Prophet.
The gospel is our only hope for standing justified, humble, and clean before our self-giving, self-sacrificing Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus.
Jesus demonstrated his great power by the pouring out of his own blood for proud “Naamans” like me.
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45