In HOPE
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David Timms 

Issue 5.3

Ministry Resource

A useful resource for those of you who function in team environments - leading and/or participating - is Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2002). The book is a national bestseller in the US and has profound insights. While secular in orientation, it will sharpen enormously your thinking about teams. 

HOPE Happenings

Hope International University is about to conduct a Deeper Life week. As part of that week, a Prayer Vigil is planned for February 15-22 (24 hrs/day). Would you like to join us for a 30-minute slot? Let me know (djtimms@hiu.edu ) and I'll add you to our roster of pray-ers. We'd be thrilled to have you join us in this.  

Humility: Embracing Emptiness

Humility is like gold - precious and in short supply.

 

We like to overstate our smallest achievements and compare our statistical successes. We display every possible credential - actual, anticipated, earned or honorary - and we are quietly pleased with our service and sacrifice, which we mention periodically. We drop the names of "important" people we are acquainted with, we introduce ourselves with titles (Pastor, Reverend, Dr, etc) and our email tag-lines are often self-promoting.

 

We rarely call our penchant for titles, achievements, awards, and credentials for what it is - pride. Society has sanitized pride and made it acceptable grist for daily conversation. "Greatness" should not be hid in a  box. If we don't promote ourselves, who will?

 

But a ton of pride is not worth an ounce of genuine humility.

 

Thomas Merton wrote: "It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy.... Humility alone can destroy the self-centeredness that makes joy impossible."

 

A.W. Tozer wrote of "the hyphenated sins of the human spirit ... self-righteousness, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, and a host of others like them." He, too, was aware of the need for radical and painful surgery in all our hearts, so that joy may be truly possible.

 

Of course, few of us will admit to being proud. But all the signals betray us - insisting on special treatment, "flashing our anointing", subtle boasting about where we've been and what we've done, displaying our degrees, or casually describing our business or family "success." And the stealthy grip of pride entwines our hearts like a vine overtaking a tree.

 

The notion of spiritual poverty, of emptiness, of desolation, and of total abandonment is unattractive. Who buys broken vases? Who wants "damaged goods"? Surely our task is to scrub up, polish up, and shine up the outside so that someone will buy it. And all the while we are blind to the Someone who has already bought it.

 

Thus, the real source of my pride is not my accomplishments but my distance from the Father. Pride is the default of the heart that is distant from Christ. And my reluctance to embrace emptiness simply makes me fill my speech and heart with words of superficial self-affirmation, in the hope that you might parrot back to me the worth I'm groping for (cf. Phil 2.5-8).

 

In truth, the further I drift from Christ, the more full of myself I become. It's the litmus test for each of us. Tragically, this self-fulfillment (fullness of oneself by onself) produces the most devastating of all emptinesses.  

 

The solution to pride is not to do less or try less but to draw closer to Him. We deal with pride by dropping our need to be impressive and embracing the very poverty for which Christ died. And  in this poverty we discover the greatest riches of the Kingdom (Matt 5.3).

 

May we venture into this emptiness that we might actually experience spiritual fullness ... for ourselves and those we lead.

 

In HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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Disclaimer: David Timms Chairs the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. However, "In HOPE" is not an official publication of the University and the views are not necessarily those of the administrators or Board of the institution.

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