“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”
Years ago, I was covering a Houston Oilers practice and there were some fans waiting to get a football autographed by the players. Before practice was over, they said, “Ms. Burkhardt, will you sign our football?” I told them that my autograph would make their football worthless and one day they’d be wondering who that lady’s autograph was on their football. With the Oilers now in a new city with a new name, I’m sure that day has come.
That was a moment of humility, but there’ve been many proud moments since. It’s an area of my life the Lord continues to work on because it is my desire to overcome a haughty spirit, something the Lord hates. What about you? So to help us out, I’ve come up with a few practical ways and personal goals to avoid pride.
1. Give God your work or ministry. I used to stress out when I didn’t land speaking engagements. We’d send out tons of flyers and received very few responses. Once I gave it all to God, He began to open up doors. When a church is deciding between two people for an event and the other person gets the job, I don’t sweat it. I just see it as a door that the Lord closed. In 1 Chronicles 29:12, King David said, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.” We have to let God rule in every aspect of our lives and trust him when an opportunity exits the back door.
2. Don’t brag about accomplishments. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let someone else praise you.” Whenever I spill out about my accolades, it never feels good. I am more apt to do this when I meet someone who has a larger ministry platform than mine. Instead we should make our conversation about the other person and let them ask questions about us, if they choose to. If we’re going to boast, as Paul said, “I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). When God revamped my testimony, it focused on my fears, not my accomplishments, and now, more people can connect with my story.
3. Pay attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. This quarter, my testimony is being featured in our church magazine, Gateway Life. The reason this happened is because the magazine staff was at a Shabbat Service at church and were looking for stories. The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit, Go tell them your story. Sharing my testimony is something I do a lot so I wasn’t nervous about it. They liked it and published an article about my testimony. However, there have been other times where the Holy Spirit has been silent, but I still moved forward. One example is when I recently gave my new book to a world-renowned speaker, who had a similar fatherless story. She immediately handed my book off to an assistant. Humbling. I felt a block on the action, but still moved forward. Remember that Jesus himself only did what he saw His Father doing. (John 5:19)
4. Don’t judge a book by its cover. This week I was ministering to women in Louisiana and my husband and I were looking for a place for lunch in Alexandria. Google told us about a restaurant that had 4.5 stars so we headed that way. When we got there, we weren’t sure we wanted to go in. The restaurant was in a very small, run-down building and pride made me a little afraid to enter, but we did. The food was great! I had the best Shrimp Po Boy I’ve ever eaten and to top it off, one of the employees had been fatherless so I was able to bless her with my new book to help the fatherless, The Only Father I Ever Knew. What if we hadn’t gone in? I realized that in that moment outside the restaurant I thought I was too good to eat there. I was so wrong. Pride did not win.
5. Limit Social Media. I utilize social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to get the word out about blogs and ministry news, but I believe if we post too much, people will become immune to our posts. The only time you will see a barrage of posts from me is when Pearls of Promise hosts an event or I’m participating in someone else’s event. Otherwise, I am of the mindset that people really don’t want to see that much of me, and if I over-post, friends will become immune to my “news” and not even acknowledge the posts anymore. Psalm 138:6 says, “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” Humility draws God near, not pride.
There is a tension between pride and humility and it’s a constant struggle. Missionary and speaker, Heidi Baker says in her devotional, Birthing the Miraculous, that God once told her, “If I can get pastors and ministers to lay down, I can turn the world upside down.” My hope is to be used in that way, but I know I must go lower still so that all people see is God’s glory.
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