November 13, 2008

The Humility to Change

I have to admit that I have never really thought about the relationship between change and humility until 'dk', a now frequent commenter to this blog, brought up the question. (See his comment here.) The more I think about it, the more I see humility being a necessary component for change. And when I say change, I mean life transforming change that actually moves us from one point to another in our lives, not just changing something temporarily only to go right back to the beginning.

As I mentioned before, I think there is a certain amount of surrender that must take place in order to change and to do that, humility is required. To get to the point of realizing that you can't do it on your own and to give up control (though many times we realize we don't really control as much as we think) is a humbling experience because in a sense we are saying that this situation or needed change is beyond me. I have tried on my own to make this change and have failed and now I must give the power, control or whatever you want to call it to someone else. Humility allows me to admit that I can't do it on my own which then allows the process of change to begin.

Something else that was brought up was the idea of authenticity as a prerequisite to change, is it or isn't it? I think it is. Just as humility is needed to experience change, I think authenticity is needed to have humility. I've got to be real with myself in order to realize that I need to put my pride on the shelf so that I can be humble enough to experience change. It is so easy to convince myself that I am much better off than I really am, that the change that needs to take place in my life is really not that urgent or that I can get around to changing whenever I decide to. I almost think that humility and authenticity are so closely related it's hard to tell one from the other, because I wonder if you can truly be humble without being authentic. It is in my authenticity that I come to see that I am really nothing special, can't do much on my own and fail more often than I succeed and yet somehow through the mystery of Christ, it is then that change can begin.


dk said...

Change that tastes good.
I agree with your comments about humility and authenticity. They are necessary ingredients to change.
As I've thought about this more I think there are other ingredients that are necessary as well. What I'm not sure about is if the process of change is a "linear" one. Meaning one element is required before another. A person simply moves along a "straight line" experiencing each step and at the end changes. I'm not sure if it's that simple. Perhaps a better metaphor is the art of baking. Changing is like baking a cake.
We start with a large mixing bowl. The bowl is our "soul", our true selves as God created us. Into our souls we pour various ingredients. Hurts, disappointments, victories, truth, "fruits" of the Spirit, etc. Everything we experience or learn makes it into the bowl. Then God begins to stir us, mixing everything up. Soon afterwards we find ourselves in the oven of life. Trials, those difficult times we all encounter. God turns up the heat and we persevere through. He begins working all things together for good. A metamorphosis begins to take place. This gooey, slimy, mess begins to change shape and texture. Seeing final product we begin to understand there is purpose in our struggle. Perseverance must complete its work so that our cake matures and is complete. Finally God sees that we done and sets us to the side to cool off. Then the taste test. How does it taste? Are there ingredients missing? Is something not quite right? Is it pretty good? Not bad for the first time. Is it edible? The point is God is not just interested in baking a cake for himself. Actually he wants to share it with those who’ve never tasted it before.
The point of change is not to help us get better or to just be like God. If our pursuit of holiness stops with only improving ourselves, we will end up in prideful ruin. Our change is not about you or I it is about our neighbor, our brother, our sister. God changes us so that others have a taste of his love and mercy. They see us mixing the ingredients, pouring stuff into our soul. It doesn’t make any sense to them why we would do such a thing. One thing to point out is as we add ingredients, Satan and even our own sinful nature is trying to sneak stuff into the mix to taint it, to ruin the batch so that those who taste it for the 1st time will never try something so horrible again. Sometimes we miss stuff. We’re blind to it. We don’t see it. We don’t allow others to watch us mix our ingredients. And we wonder why no one ever wants seconds; why we don’t impact the people around us. If we were humble enough and ate our own cake we would understand why. But we don’t. We keep giving it away like others should be thankful they’re even getting a piece. This attitude of arrogance stifles God’s redemptive plan. God could have chosen to make the cake himself. I’m sure he could have made a really good one. But for some reason he chose you and I to be the bakers. Imperfect as we are, as messy as we are, with our filthy rags we present something called Christianity to those around us. How it tastes….that’s completely up to us.
My ramblings for today…here’s to good cake, good friends, and a great God!

dk said...

Excuse me for throwing up on your blog! It's kind of obvious I no longer have any outlets for this kind of theoretical pontification!

Bottom line is change is simple, but not easy. There are very few shortcuts and it typically requires a sacrificial commitment. Humility and authenticity make it a little easier and I think ultimately more effective. The other word I would throw into the mix is discipline. The difference between dreams and reality - discipline. Discipline to me is the ability to deny one's self for a greater good.

Authenticity allows you to see what needs to change. Humility enables one to start the process. Discipline enables one to finish. Somewhere in all of it is the Holy Spirit. He fills in all the gaps, all the in-betweens.

Why do we do it?

1 Corinthians 9:23-25

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Matt said...

dk: thanks again for the thoughts. no need to apologize, dialogue is one of the reasons i started this blog.

i like the "mixing bowl" idea. i would agree that the process of change is not necessarily a linear one, though it does seem like humility could be a good starting point. remembering that God, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, has a significant part to play in this is an important point you reminded us of.

something else i've been thinking about, if our pursuit of holiness ends in prideful ruin then it becomes quite obvious that we were never really pursuing holiness in the first place.

thanks again for sharing.