Humble pie. An old-fashioned phrase. Makes me think of a picnic in springtime, a checkerboard tablecloth, and someone joyriding through a forest in a horse-drawn wagon. That person thinks he’s king of the world. He’s showing off but all-too-soon he hits a rock, is catapulted from his dinky wooden seat, and with arms and legs flailing catches air and unceremoniously lands in a huge puddle. Mud covers him from head to toe.
Don’t ask me where I got this visual. I have no idea. But when people say, “He’s too big for his britches,” something along these lines comes to mind.
What is humility, exactly?
In modern parlance, we’ve wrongly accepted it as having low self-esteem. It’s not that.
Merriam-Webster’s defines it as the quality or state of not being proud or haughty. To be humble is also to rank low in a hierarchy or scale. To be unpretentious.
Note that these definitions do not indicate intrinsic value. You can be a cog in the wheel of a large organization, but if doing your job enables others to get theirs done too, you’re not exactly worthless, are you?
My grandfather used to say he was a “peanut” when he described his career as an engineer at Boeing in Seattle, WA. A former WWII pilot and instructor, he was extremely bright and capable, and held a variety of positions which relocated his family a handful of times over the years. But no matter how much I admired his work, his perspective was different. He’d grown up in the Great
So it made sense to me, sitting at his memorial service, that here was a man who had spent his life making kind overtures. Yes, he helped feed and clothe the homeless through his church, and volunteered countless hours to manage the books for community groups. But another thing he did really struck me.
In his later years, he joined a yacht club and rose ‘through the chairs’ to become Commodore. At the end of the monthly members’ meeting, he had a personal tradition of “Naming the House.” Starting on one side of the room and making his way around, he would say the name of every person present, and if there was enough time, also the name of his/her spouse and their boat. At any meeting, there might be as many as 200 people present.
This is notable for a few reasons:
First, what a memory! Keeping his mind sharp was always important to him, but he must have spent days studying the roster. It shows a level of dedication to his organization that I believe most leaders don’t have.
Second, he was looking at each person as he said their name and relayed information pertinent to that person’s life. How often do we tell others that they are seen? That we know them? That we care who they are?
And finally, he was not doing this to show off or to elevate himself above his fellow members. He did it because he fully understood that once his term was up, he would reassume his place in the crew. Despite the fancy uniform and podium he was speaking from – he was – essentially – just like them, and he valued each of them for who they were individually. His heart was in serving them. He knew that each person was important – a valued member – and he wanted them to know that he would never forget a single one.
This how God sees us.
He looks upon us with tremendous love – boundless affection – and says, “I know you. Every part of you. And in my leadership, I will never forget you.”
To show us that he understands, He sent us Himself in Jesus. Fully man, and fully divine, a person who was similarly tested in all ways, but remained without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) God “gets” us.
True humility on our part is recognizing our rightful place in the world, which is neither less than nor greater than any other human being, but bowing only toward the One Who is.
How does this thought strike you? Is it strange? Foreign? Liberating?
Our intrinsic value is not defined by our position. It is not related to our income, connections, careers, or even our bad habits.
We were created in love by the One Who cradles us in the palm of His hand and calls us Beloved. This is where we find our true worth.
This kind of humble pie is Truth. And it’s deliciously filling.