Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God…emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself. from Philippians 2:5-8
We live in a culture that does not prize humility. We are taught that if I don’t watch out for myself, who will? The goal of life is to make a name for ourselves, to gain power and privilege. Jesus, on the other hand, gives us the example of humility, of emptying himself of power and authority. I wonder what would happen if we actually did that?
I remember a time almost 30 years ago. I was one of the co-ordinators of our Vacation Bible School (VBS). In that role, I worked closely with the church religious education (RE) director and I realized that there was friction in her relationship with our pastor. He was a person with whom she had differences. And then this happened.
It was morning, VBS opening. Each day began with more than 100 children, our adult staff, and pastor in praise time in the sanctuary. From there, we had to move all those children to individual classrooms. The transition was always hectic requiring all adults to participate for a smooth move. This particular morning, as praise time was ending, a kindergarten child threw up. She had obviously had a large breakfast; vomit ran down the back of the pew in front of her and a huge puddle was on the wood floor. She was the grand-daughter of the RE director.
Then began a quick discussion of which of the 3 VBS co-ordinators or the RE director could most easily be spared at this critical juncture in the morning to clean up the mess. As we each offered reasons why we should be the clean-up person, in walked the pastor, carrying a mop and a bucket of water. Gently, he said, “You each have places you need to be right now. I will clean this up.” I will never forget the image of this pastor, our religious leader and authority, dressed in a suit, white shirt, and tie, mopping the vomit off the floor of the sanctuary. I worked with that RE director for a number of years after that happened. Every so often she would say, “Do you remember when my grand-daughter threw up in the sanctuary and the pastor cleaned it up?” And I never heard her complain about him again: it was his humility that most spoke to her…and to me… of Christ.
Prayer: God, Only when we empty ourselves can we be filled with your spirit. Please melt me, mold me, fill me, and use me. Amen.