“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
The history of our country is full of proclamations declaring certain days for public worship, prayer, fasting, or thanksgiving. These days were often referred to as “days of humiliation.”
Can you imagine devoting a full day of fasting, silence, humble mediation, and praying for divine guidance, protection, provision, or breakthrough? You’ve probably fasted (and prayed) sometime in your life. But have you ever participated in this spiritual discipline with other family members? What about with a larger group, like your local church? Or the entire country?
I remember the humility that seemed to exist among our citizens in the days following Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I vividly recall that first Sunday after the attacks, when churches across the nation were filled to overflowing. There was a serious mood in the air, a swell of patriotism like nothing in our lifetime, and a unity that was previously uncommon. There may not have been an official proclamation, but I think it’s safe to say that, as a country, we were humiliated in a good way.
The Continental Congress urged the colonies to observe a day of “public humiliation, fasting, and prayer” on July 20, 1775, to bless King George III. Another such moment in history was March 30, 1863, when President Lincoln signed a proclamation to designate and set apart that day for “national prayer and humiliation.”
Humiliation. This form of the word “humble” seems extreme to many of us in the twenty-first century. I mean, we’re all for being humble. Most of us agree that there are too many prideful, narcissistic, egotists out there making life miserable for everyone. But do we really need to subject ourselves to humiliation? What exactly does this mean? And how is it similar to or different from merely being humble?
Listen to some of the words from the 1863 proclamation, which recognizes “the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations.” It says that nations have a duty to confess their sins “in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope,” recognizing that “those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. . . . It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
Wow! This ought to move us to tears.
We celebrated Memorial Day less than a week ago, and many of us are already making plans for the Fourth of July holiday. We know our country has lost its way when it comes to giving honor and reverence to the one true God. Sadly, most folks in the good old USA, including many who attend church on a regular basis, can be described as biblically illiterate. I think it’s safe to say that we need to pray. We need to fast. We need to humble ourselves before the Great and Glorious Sovereign, the Lord God Almighty.
Heavenly Father, please hear our prayer. Help us repent of our evil ways, humble ourselves, and seek Your face. May Your Sovereign will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Please forgive us, both individually and as a nation, for our sins against You. Be merciful toward us and heal our land. Bring glory to Yourself and for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray! Amen.
Have you ever thought of humility as a legacy? I sat, devastated and alone in a tiny, old house, my six children sleeping on air mattresses in nearly empty rooms. The dream of reviving this ramshackle farm in the middle of nowhere suddenly became a nightmare.
How in the world would I raise six children as a single mom- how could I pay the bills, keep up the house and yard, and be a good mother? I was terrified.
The phone rang, it was my 86-year-old grandmother. “Amanda, come live with me. I’m in a big house all alone. My home can be your home.”
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Phillipians 2:3
Humility, considering oneself lower than others, is a characteristic so opposite of our human nature. We are naturally selfish, focusing much of our time on our own survival and desires. Christian humility stands out as counter-culture.
When I think of humility, my grandma immediately comes to mind. She has spent her life in humility; quick to listen to problems, to meet financial needs, to offer anything she has for a need. That consistent humility, care, and concern speak the love of Jesus into the hearts of all she touches.
My grandmother’s legacy of exuding a humble spirit touches generations in her family and her community. She is known for her love of Jesus. Her faith is deemed genuine, even by non-believers, thanks to her humble spirit. Grandma’s entire life is a testimony to the love of Christ and His faithfulness.
What encouragement to strive for a life of humility!
Heavenly Father, how we long to walk humbly with you and leave a beautiful legacy to the family you’ve blessed us with. Thank you for loving and accepting our meager offering.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NIV
Ever since I was a young Christian, I have loved the idea of taking on the Lord’s yoke. In my head, I could always picture myself trading in one heavy load of baggage for the promised lighter load from Jesus.
A yoke is a piece of wood used to unite two animals allowing them to pull equipment and work in fields. The two animals, usually oxen, must be similar in size and height. When a farmer had a new animal, it was paired with an older animal to be trained. When the new animal tried to veer off the path, the yoke would keep that animal centered. What an amazing picture this creates when we think of a relationship with the Lord.
God is offering us a personal invitation to be united with Him and to learn from Him how to walk in humility. Jesus lowered himself by coming to this earth and dying for our sins. And He’s calling us to tie ourselves to Him and take the path of humility with Him by our sides.
Not only does He promise to teach us how to be gentle and humble, but He promises that on the path of humility we will find rest for our souls. And it doesn’t stop there. God promises that the humble person will be:
- Crowned with victory: For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Psalm 149:4
- Given wisdom: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
- Lifted up: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
- and gain honor: Pride brings a person low but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23
Lord, help me to remain yoked to you. I ask you to reveal any area in my heart that is not tied to you. Help me to remain on the path of humility and to put others above myself.
How many times have you seen commercials about this or maybe you’ve experienced this yourself…
…your husband or kids (or even the dog) enter your house from outside, either from playing or working, and have muddy feet? And of course, you’ve just cleaned the floor, right?
And you say…Don’t come in here with those muddy feet!
But what about God’s house? God is holy and His house is holy. Do we try to enter it with muddy feet?
In Old Testament times, God commanded the priests to perform special cleansing duties in order to be purified and fit to enter the tabernacle or the Holy of holies of the temple to serve. They were to cleanse themselves in the laver or the molten/brazen sea before entering His presence, so that they would be pure and not die before a holy God. Die? Yes, die.
God appointed Aaron, his sons, and their descendants to be priests and said, “Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from [the laver]. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.” (Ex. 30:19-20 NKJV)
This was serious business. And it was a forever statute.
The application for believers today is that we, too, have been made priests. Christ is our High Priest (Heb. 9:11) and, through His death, He “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.” (Rev. 1:6a NKJV) In order, then, to serve the Lord, to minister before Him, or to worship Him, we need to be cleansed.
Therefore, “since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:21-22 NLT)
Humility: As priests before a holy God, we cannot enter His presence with muddy feet…or a muddy heart, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:7 NKJV)
To come before the Lord in holiness, to worship at His feet, to give Him glory and honor, being cleansed is mandatory. We are to worship in the beauty of holiness, as David reminds us (Ps. 29:2). Yes, the Lord always accepts us, but, to worship in holiness, we need to be cleansed.
We cannot worship a holy God when covered in the mud of sin.
Questions we need to ask ourselves:
- Do I allow the Lord to cleanse my heart to sanctify me, to purify me and separate me from the filth of this world that I might draw near to Him in true worship? James said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a NKJV)
- Am I out traipsing through the sludgy side-roads of life, dragging my heart and feet through its muck? James continues, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8 NKJV), “for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:8b NLT)
- Do I try to enter the Father’s presence with those muddy feet? Or do I allow Jesus to wash my feet? As Peter said, “‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’” (John 13:8 NKJV)
Oh, that I may have a cleansed heart, purged mind, sanitized spirit, and purified body to enter the holy presence of the Lord to offer my worship!
A few years ago, I learned about humility in a way I never imagined.
I had a great job, working with amazing people. It wasn’t a perfect job, don’t get me wrong. no one there was perfect and they never expected me to be perfect.
In fact, they loved me in spite of my imperfections.
But as much as I loved the job, it seemed that so many other people did not want me in that position. I didn’t know people could be so cruel.
It was my first taste of how people can use the internet for evil.
Little did I know this experience was preparing me for a situation one of my children would have. Like me, people used the internet to hurt my child.
It impacted our entire family.
False rumors and edited photos about our child and family were shared across several social media platforms.
We began to see that no matter how much we tried to control what our children did on their phones and our computers, we could not control what others did.
It’s easy to think that placing apps and accountability software on your devices will keep your family safe. But, that is a false sense of safety. If a person wants to harm your family, they won’t use your devices, they will use their own and you have no control over that.
Unfortunately, many parents do not think their children would ever do anything like that. Many also believe their children need privacy. So, they have no clue that their children could be hurting another person right under their nose.
And many who do know, see these actions as ‘just kids being kids and having fun.’
Take it from me, these things are NOT fun. This has impacted our family emotionally and financially.
Thankfully, we know that the Lord sees our hearts and guides us through these struggles. His love and never ending grace have reminded us – that no matter how people may harm us, we need to forgive others.
This life is short. My family and I could spend our time stewing over these hurts, or we can turn them into good by loving others and reminding parents – we really have no control over anything in this world except the way we respond to others in any situation.
This month’s topic is holiness and humility. Each month that I am tasked to write on a given subject, I meditate on the topic at hand, then I reflect on the experiences that God has and continues to use in my life to refine me in that area. When it comes to humility, we tend to associate it with words like “shy and quiet” and while one can be shy and quiet, that is not what humility encompasses.
Humility is an inside job (heart attitude), not merely an outward demeanor. One may put on an outward show of humility but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. When Jesus talks about only those who are “meek” (power under control) and “poor in spirit” (spiritually bankrupt) will inherit the kingdom, He is talking about the “inside job” that needs to happen in each one of our lives. There’s a significant difference between “admitting that you are wrong” and “confessing the crime.” God says that when we confess our sin and believe, then we will be saved. Being (holy) humble is not a “shy person” quality, it’s an attitude of our hearts.
How has God taught me humility? Oh! Let me count the ways, but for the sake of brevity I’ll have to limit my storytelling. Don’t worry there’s always next month!
I tend to keep God busy.
Being a teenager and idealistic, I was waiting to take my chance at bat and change the world so to speak. Except I didn’t understand the game nor did I know how to play. After years of self-loathing and self-destructive decisions somehow God shook His head at this desperately lost sheep and brought me into the fold.
When I became aware of that amazing Grace He had bestowed on me, I was so overwhelmed. I was so glad to “make it,” albeit by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, I thought it best to keep a low profile just in case someone would take notice and scream, “she doesn’t belong here!” Regrettably, I went from being in bondage to my sin, to being in bondage to a (false) idea of what I thought Christianity looked like and to people’s ideas of how I should behave, because, you know, I’m a Christian now.
In frustration, because truth be told, I just wanted to please God. I wanted to “fit in” into this new life He called me to. I didn’t have a clue how to “act like a Christian.” What did that mean anyway? Coming from the country I came from, all I wanted was Jesus, for real! I wanted to get as close as I could to the hem of His garment. As I stumbled along, I pleaded for God to show me how to live this life that He called me to and then God gave me a husband and followed it up with children. Just when I thought I was an accomplished human, these two gifts rocked my world. We’ll talk about the “taming of this shrew” on another blog entry, for now we’ll leave it to motherhood to humble me in immeasurable ways.
Love at First Sight
I like to refer to motherhood as “love at first sight” because the moment you see your child you are instantly smitten. After spending countless hours losing sleep, diapering and feeding this little human, we want to see that we have amounted to something other than a chicken-nugget chef, boo-boo kissing, nursery rhyme rock star, and toy picker-upper extraordinaire! Cue the epic background music and roll out the red carpet. Mommas are in the house!
After years of this routine, we are seeking the accolades from the crowd that we have the smartest child, and if lil’ Susie (or Johnny) can’t read by the time s/he’s four, then we’ll move on the next trophy: “godliest.” After all, check out the Awana vest, all badges are accounted for! Or, how about the wittiest, the sweetest, the bravest, and so on until we find a “label” for our precious bundle that meets the criteria that screams from the rooftops, “I produced a super human, how about that!?”
Then there’s a reprieve if you will, and we go from “vipers in diapers” to “taller toddlers” (teenagers) and they are equally as challenging to navigate, which is why we need Jesus. It’s not a cliché, it’s the Truth. During this season, our kids are amid an identity crisis and desperately seeking a trophy to call their own. The struggle is real. The competition is fierce, and parents who are already exhausted from the toddler years enter puberty with both exhilaration and exasperation.
How many times do I find myself looking at my children trying to explain to them that I really did go through puberty, even though I look ancient to them? I dedicate all my gray hairs to them. I understand the awkwardness of what it is to grow up. Echoing my Father’s sentiment (Proverbs 23:26), I remind them to trust me and stay close to my heart and above all, to remain in Him.
They need to see
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”
How do we teach our children that holiness, not a mate nor the latest trend making its debut, is what they need and what they should strive for when the culture is unapologetically trying to swallow them whole? Somewhere along the way we lost sight of God. We lost sight that holiness is what our heart should desire above all else. We’ve been bamboozled to believe that “holiness” is boring. Did we forget we are to be in the world, not of the world? How can we effectively sharpen iron when our standard is to look at what everyone else is doing rather than what the Scriptures say? Clearly, I have more questions than answers.
While my answer may seem over-simplistic, I will say that in my experience it has been eye-opening. One thing has not changed from the toddler years to the taller years – and that is, my children have not stopped imitating me. This is both good and bad. Being a homeschool parent, I don’t even get a six-hour reprieve during the day to act like a fool sans any witnesses. My every move is being watched. It is a humbling, and at times a humiliating reality that I face on a regular basis, knowing that my children are watching every – move – I – make.
We (parents) lead by example whether we like it or not. If we want our children to seek God daily, guess what? We need to seek God daily. We want our children to be humble, love mercy and walk justly with their God. They need to see it modeled in their homes. As we pursue righteousness, they will see us being challenged, refined and restored. They’re watching that process and in it they are learning how to hold steadfast to their faith during the storms that await them. How we deal with our struggles speaks volumes to them. It’s not enough to tell them to pursue holiness, they need to see how we pursue it.
It’s not called a “daily” walk for naught. It must be sought out and pursued. Unlike chasing rabbit trails with no end in sight, our pursuit of God allows us to run our race with excellence. We come to the well and not only do we quench our thirst, we grow up, we mature, we become better humans. True humility produces godliness, contentment, and security. What more can we ask for ourselves and our children? There may not be a single applause from the crowd, but who needs the accolades when the end goal is to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!” from the only person that matters.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
The topic of practicing humility has been on my heart for a year. Maybe more. What does it look like to be humble?
I used to think it meant to be a farmer. Really, I did. No joke.
I know that is very wrong. A farmer can be a very proud person. Just as any of us non- farmers can be humble.
Let me tell you what I thought farmers, a.k.a. humble people, were. I believed being humble meant staying quiet. Humble meant just blending in. I thought humble was doing what everyone else had always done. Humble meant stuffing any feelings of wanting to stick out. Humble meant doing things the way we had always done them (whether you knew why or not.)
My struggle with this is real.
I am one that likes to stay in the corners and not say much. A year ago God called me to do some drastic things. Me, the little stay-in-the-corner gal. The gal scared stiff of conflict and of going against the grain. Me, scared of rejection and terrified of sticking my neck out in vulnerable places. That was me. Then He called me to do scary things. Things different from anything anyone else around me was doing. It brought up conflict. There were (and still are) people that don’t like what I do. Through it all, He showed me I needed to keep on. He showed me this was my purpose. This is what I was born for.
But, I looked back at what humble meant in my mind; I wasn’t matching it by any stretch of the imagination.
I was in turmoil. I wasn’t being anything I thought humble was. Yet! I knew I was doing what God had called me to do. So I went on a search.
Jesus is, of course, the best place to go to study the character, of, well, the character of anything… Including humility. So that’s where I started…
Did Jesus avoid conflict?
Did Jesus try to blend in with the people of the day? the religious leaders of the day?
Did He always do things the way they always had?
No, no, and defiantly no.
He challenged the leaders. He didn’t run from conflict. He didn’t blend in with the people of the day. I don’t remember him EVER doing a sacrifice. Ever. And that is how people always had done religion.
But was He humble? YES!
So what does it mean to be humble? Jesus wasn’t looking like what I thought humble would look like. Especially the farmer part. Lol. I went on more of a search. How could He do all these things and still remain humble? What does being humble REALLY look like?
As I thought some more, I realized Jesus knew:
He knew Who He was.
He knew What His purpose was
He knew Why He was here.
He knew to Whom He belonged.
And even though He had power, even though He was God, in the form of Man… He knew that His power was from God.
So I think. If I could keep my focus on the answers to those very statements, I could truly have humility.
If I know who I am.
If I know what my purpose is.
If I know why I am here.
If I know to Whom I belong.
And when I am given power or strength to do any good thing… If I truly understand where my strength comes from.
If I could truly wrap myself around those answers.
It may start with that last one. If I could realize where my strength comes from. If I would realize how Holy God is. I think I would be able to finally get it right.
So that, my friends, has been something I’ve been pondering.
How holy God is
For me, I need to practice intentionally stopping. Stop and look for God’s holiness.
Have I been outside lately? Have I seen God’s handiwork EVERYWHERE. The animals, the plants, the flowers, every leaf, each bird. He is HOLY! He is more amazing then I can ever comprehend.
Have I looked at a child lately? How their bodies heal from the scrapes and bruises they get. How they are able to digest food. Without anything we do for them. How they grow taller without any preparation or thought on our part. He is HOLY! More amazing than I can ever comprehend.
What about our bodies? How they all work together, heart beating, our liver making just the right amounts of bile, our lungs breathing. Do we even comprehend it all? YET, it is right in front of us. Right inside us. Often, we don’t even realize how our bodies are working for us until it stops doing what it is supposed to. (Until it needs some additional help in order to heal.) Do I realize how amazing God really is?
A challenge for you (and me) is to stop and be still. To be intentional about taking time to look for the ways we can see God’s huge greatness. Remember that He is Holy! When we realize how Holy He is, when we practice humility, then we can answer the other questions…
Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? To whom do I belong? Where does my strength come from?
What about you, my friend; do you know the answers to those questions? I’d love to hear your answers!
Have you ever prayed the “most dangerous prayer,” as I’ve heard it called by Pastor Rick Warren?
Have your lips and your heart ever cried out, “Use Me, Lord!” but you think you’re stuck in an unending season of homeschooling?
As I’ve contemplated His holiness and our humility this month to write this to you, dear sister, I can’t help but share with you a few encouraging revelations I’ve gleaned over the years.
Homeschooling Keeps Us Humble
This thing we do, the thing you, dear mama, do– knee deep and over your head at times (and I’m right there with you) called homeschooling is our place of humility. We surely know that the Holy Spirit will convict us through words we speak to our children. Over and over again. (Thank the Lord for His grace!) It’s a place we’re brought humbly to our knees (even if that looks like the driver’s seat of our minivans) to ask repeatedly- each and every day, “Jesus, help!” We know that without Him, this homeschool is nothing.
Humility is remembering our place in the Lord, but not shying away from our role and place in His Kingdom here on Earth. I had a Bible college teacher say: “we’ve often got this humility thing all wrong. We think being humble means hiding our true selves, whom God has called and created us to be, under a banner of ‘The Lord has it, I’m just going to be humble and shy and do nothing.’ Quite the contrary! Humility means yes, put our pride aside and know the Lord Almighty is in control, and to give Him all the glory! But it also means to step out confidently in the Lord into who He has called you to be, and the plans upon your lives!” If He’s called you to homeschool, then your plans as a homeschooling family are to be His Light in this world, together. ” When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” — Proverbs 11:2”
Let’s humbly seek the Lord for His wisdom, but then “GO!” into the World as the Lord has commanded us!
” And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NIV
Mamas, It doesn’t say “your whole home(school) is full of His glory! It says the whole earth! Do you know just a couple verses under those often quoted words where we sing holy, holy, holy, that the Lord asked Isaiah : Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah responded, ” Here am I. Send Me!”
The Earth is Filled with His Glory!
Remember that dangerous prayer? Have you asked to be sent? This is your opportunity! When was the last time you took yourself, and your children, on an adventure to see some of the glory covering His earth? Are you out in nature regularly, even if just for a walk or a picnic? How about exploring other places? Maybe studying His creation and other cultures? Are we really getting our children out to see some of this Earth full of His glory?
What are we doing to be sent- getting into the world- as an answer to that dangerous prayer I’m sure so many of us have said? See, mamas, this homeschooling thing, it’s about being available, hands raised high, for expanding His Kingdom here on Earth. I bet you’ve prayed that prayer sometime in your life. And maybe you’ve said to yourself, “the Lord will use me when we get done with this homeschooling season.” But, friends, the time is now! What if that prayer gets answered through your children and your homeschooling? I personally think homeschool is a misnomer. We’re hardly home, and it certainly doesn’t look like school. And that, my friends, is the Lord’s great blessing of freedom in your education in this season!
Homeschooling Is Holy
This homeschool thing is already holy. It’s set apart. It’s different from the world’s systems, and we’re raising up an army of His warriors! Let’s get them trained and out in the world as to how to respond to it, while they’re still home with us under our wings. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 Ask the Lord, my friends, is this the time? Could you really use me during our homeschooling season?
Think about the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the world, and from the call of the Lord. Yet, the angel knew Gideon was a mighty man of valor. How about you, mama? Are you hiding from the call of the Lord to get out with your families into this big, wide, world, yet He sees you as a mighty warrior leading your army for Him?
He Was and Is and Is to Come
…Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8
If the Lord says it in the Old Testament and He says it in the New, we should certainly pay attention. He was and is and is to come. Let’s use this “is” season we’re in to show our children His glory around the world, not just in our homes, while we educate them on the ways of the Lord. Embrace your gifts and use them for His good. Where do you think He’s calling your family to reach out? I’m sure it will be through the gifts He’s given you, and your children, as strange and puzzling as they may be. (Here’s a little glimpse at one of our family’s outreaches.)
I believe in you, mamas, and I know the Lord does, too. Keep humbling yourselves under His mighty hand and He will exalt you. All for His glory.
Vaya Con Dios-
I’m a tri-polar homeschool mom. By “tri-polar,” I mean I tend to bounce between one of three poles: the good, the bad, and the humble. I have “good” days when I think homeschooling is the best choice we’ve ever made for our family and wouldn’t dream of changing a thing! I also have “bad” days when I question my sanity and run the same load of laundry for the third time. Because. Reasons. 😉
Most days I’m somewhere in the middle—like a pinball briskly bouncing between the bumpers on the machine (quadrupling the score) before bouncing back out onto the playfield only to slide straight through the flapper paddles into the “out hole.” Game over. Or so it could be, if not for my third (bonus) pole perspective.
Before I share my “bonus pole strategy” with you, I need to explain the dangers of the first two:
DANGER OF POLE #1: PRIDE
To the homeschool moms who paint the picture that all days are good, that homeschooling is easy, that children are always respectful and obedient: Bless your heart! (I mean that in the most Southern of ways.) Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
If I’ve learned nothing else in the past eight years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeschooling is a 2-for-1 deal (God is efficient like that). Both children AND their parents are transformed through the experiences of home education—sometimes, parents more so than children—and the more challenging the experience, the more dramatic the change. God is always working on us to transform us into His image, anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Outward appearances can be very deceiving.
“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 18:12
Some of the most judgmental, prideful people I have ever met have been homeschoolers; however, the vast majority are among the most humble and kind. My point is that when we make the choice to homeschool our children based on strong personal convictions, we must fight the temptation to condemn those who have chosen not to. More importantly, we should not judge those who do it differently than we do. That is pride and generally frowned upon in most Christian circles.
We should be generous in our assumptions (as if we have the right to make any in the first place). Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors, suggests that we “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.” This gives satan very little space to bait us with offense and lead us into the sins of arrogance and judgment.
DANGER OF POLE #2: SELF-ABASEMENT
To the homeschool moms who are at their wits’ end, who think all the other moms know exactly what they are doing, and that they are the only moms blessed with disrespectful, obstinate kids in the homeschool community: Things could be worse! And I mean that in the most Northern of ways. Actually, what I mean to say is, “Stop. It.”
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
Something else I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling: satan loves nothing more than to make us feel isolated, alone, and abnormal. If he can get us to repeatedly verbalize our insecurities, doubts, and fears, he will lead us down a path of self-pity where we forget that We. Are. Not. Alone! We forget that our homeschool journey is as much an adventure of faith as it is an education. We forget to look up!
As Dr. Tony Evans says, “God would not have called you to it, if He did not plan to see you through it.”
How did we ever conceive the notion that the path would be smooth when following God’s will for our lives? It’s rarely like that. Don’t believe me? Just look in the Bible for a few examples of folks whose path was anything but smooth (e.g., Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary). God uses the ups and downs, curves and caves to sculpt us into the people He created us to be—so we reach our full potential! So, we must be wary of our penchant for whining on the bad days, lest we forget He who planned this journey in the first place. Does it mean we never vent our frustrations with a trusted friend and ally? By no means! God gives us partners on the journey for a reason; however, we must keep our attitudes in check, lest venting take root or worse drag the other down. Does it mean we take responsibility for our spiritual perspective during these times? Absolutely.
BONUS POLE STRATEGY: A HUMBLE PERSPECTIVE
This, my friend, is where our “Bonus Pole” comes in. The third pole exists in another dimension, and the good news is that there are no dangers here! In fact, this place is filled with extra pinballs that come out at just the right moment to help us keep playing the game. Thank you, Lord! This pole is the best place for me to hang my hat as a homeschool mom. It’s an “every day” attitude of HUMILITY. And the cool thing about this pole is that since it’s in another dimension, I can bounce in anytime I want—whether I’m having a good day, a bad day, or just a day.
“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
HUMILITY shifts my perspective from my relationship with my kids to my relationship with God. I’m able to see the battle for what it is and fight the real enemy—which, by the way, is NOT the kids, the pet(s), the curriculum, the finances, the house, or even the spouse!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
When my vision is clouded by pride (it’s all about me) or self-abasement (it’s still all about me), I forget that the same God who called me to homeschool is the same God who has equipped me for battle. As I intentionally shift my focus from self to Savior, I am reminded whose I am. My vision becomes crystal clear and my discernment is sharpened. I remember my spiritual armor, and I’m able to fight the fight of faith with weapons that actually work! Interestingly, this shift can only happen when I’m in humility.
So, how do I get there? This place called “Humility”?
Well, when you arrive at the fork on Attitude Road, consider your options: You may head down the paved path of pride or choose the grovel road that leads to self-abasement. Or look up and take the highway to humility where there are no tolls or trolls and the view is quite divine!
“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10
As a mother, I have been hearing that my position is an honorable one, a selfless one, and a humble one. In fact, I often encourage other moms with those very statements. We can go on Pinterest and see beautiful images of a mom and kids at sunset on the beach or cuddling on the couch, along with a sweet statement about motherhood written in swirly gold letters…all this to encourage us in our position. It’s mentioned so much in Christian circles that sometimes I wonder if we are trying to convince ourselves even as we are saying it!
Well, because we are studying humility this month, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to the scriptures and see exactly what they say about the humility of motherhood.
1 Cor. 1: 26-28 tells us,
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.
Though this passage doesn’t specify mothers, I love how we can get a glimpse of our Creator’s character. He chooses what is foolish to shame the wise. He chooses the weak to shame the strong. He chooses the lowly to bring to nothing things that are. It doesn’t make sense to our worldly minds.
Yet we see this thread throughout the Bible. When Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, was carrying Jacob and Esau, the Lord told her the older would serve the younger (Gen. 25:23). Now Jewish tradition held that the first born…the oldest…would receive the double blessing and extra inheritance. God’s choice of the younger Jacob discounted that.
Jacob had twelve sons, yet God chose one of the youngest (Joseph) to rise up and become second in command in Egypt (Gen. 37 and 45). He chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to become king after Saul. Samuel said in 1Samuel 16, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
It is clear that God’s ways are not man’s ways. He looks at things differently than we do. Our culture looks at the outside: the strong, the important, and the famous.
God looks at the heart.
And that got me thinking about something else. Matthew 6:28-29 says,
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Lilies are pretty flowers, but they are simple ones. When poets speak of superlative flowers, they usually go to the showy or fragrant ones like roses, birds of paradise, dahlias, and irises.
Even in the botanical world, lilies are considered simple flowers in their structure and biology. But God chooses to clothe the grass (Matthew 6:30) with these humble lovelies!
Do you see a pattern here? In His great wisdom, God chooses the things that the world’s eyes would not choose in order to do His work.
What does that mean for us as moms?
“Humble” is not a bad word. A humble spirit is something the Lord desires in us. And humility is not the same as unimportant. Humility is lovely. It is desirable. It is God’s beautiful adornment on us.
Well, I am the first to say that motherhood can be a humbling experience. But I often thought of that in a negative way. There were days, especially when my children were younger, that I felt like a lily walking among women who were roses. I remember going grocery shopping with one child in the kid’s seat of the cart, another inside the cart, and others in tow. I would be scrambling up and down the aisles, trying to find the best purchases, gather my coupons, and get out of there as soon as possible so we could get back home and finish school for the day.
Definitely. Not. Glamorous.
And we would walk by them: quiet, composed, perfect hair, and sipping on Starbucks as they slowly walked through the store. They were the roses and dahlias that made me feel unimportant.
But it wasn’t anything THEY actually did. It was MY incorrect perception of them (They were probably nice roses!). Yet their presence made me and my job as wife, mom, and homeschooler feel lesser, or in my mind: humble.
That is wrong. Humility is NOT the same as unimportant! The humble position of motherhood is anything but unimportant, too.
Consider the character of God. He chooses the humble and exalts them for His glory. He considers who you are and what you do to be a highly exalted thing. When we meet someone and they ask what we do, don’t mumble through your lips that you are “just” a mom.
God, in His wisdom, has chosen YOU to do the amazing work He has for you. So be that gorgeous lily and bloom to adorn those around you!