If it doesn’t challenge me, why do it?

This post continues the series on humility, previous posts can be found herehere, and here. It is the last in the 4-part humility series and is a follow-up from a weekend retreat for teens that was focused on Paul’s Letter to the Philippian Church.

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50 teenagers sat uncomfortably (at first) as it was rolled out that this weekend wasn’t about them. Well, more specifically, it wasn’t about them as individuals. It was about the group, it was about service, it was about relationships, and it was about embracing their faith. Talk about a tough message to a generation of people who have grown up with a steady diet of me-centric media…but if it isn’t tough, why do it?

What is amazing is that they respond. Tell them that they have a choice – live a life that looks self-centered, potentially abusive, and self-gratifying or a life that is other-focused, concerned about the good for others, and self-emptying and it surprising that they actually seem excited for this “new” path forward.

I think all too often we offer simple solutions, band-aid fixes, and low hanging fruit to people when what they really want (or at least need) are transformative experiences, deep and hard self-work, and big goals.

What if we asked people to help others without being concerned about their desires all the time? What would happen if we asked people to let go of the things that they are holding onto in order to lift the burdens of someone else? What if we asked them to forgive, rather than to hold onto grudges?

The answer to these questions is that we would have a wholly different society. One that was not focused with getting its own way, or constant self-gratification, but instead recognized that every person in showing value to others would actually have more than enough as in giving they themselves receive.

So, enough writing and talking about the subject, who is ready to enact this challenge. For 30 days, live with an other-focused orientation showing honor to others above even your ownself. Encourage them, serve them, and stop worrying about “getting yours”. I guarantee that you will see change among those that surround you and within your ownself.

Live big, otherwise what is the point – who wants to live a small and petty life?

Owning your differences, while respecting others uniqueness

This post is part of a 4-post series on humility that began yesterday.

I am not sure when I really started to get it. I can think of moments along the way. When I was the only kid in my sixth grade class that voted for George H. W. Bush in the 1992 Presidential Election (though 1 other kid voted for Perot). When I sought work in politics just out of high school. Or even when a life in ministry was actually appealing as a 20-something. I was different, and I owned that.

The reality was, that while I was learning to appreciate my own differences, it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I really began to appreciate the uniqueness I found in others. No, not just my friends, schoolmates, and co-workers. I mean the person living in the homeless shelter, the family struggling to make ends meet while working multiple jobs and getting assistance from the government, or even those people whose lives had been broken by addiction. I had previously either overlooked or discarded these people.

Two of the core realities of the humility construct are a willingness to learn/teachability and a willingness to see the strengths of others. While I had grown in my willingness to examine myself accurately, I had not often given the same right to others. When you  step back and open yourself up to learning from others and appreciating who they are (regardless of the baggage we all carry), something amazing happens.

My life has grown so much from people who are different than I am. They share with me their stories and allow me into their world which looks and feels nothing like my existence. These are amazing and humbling moments in which you understand that the world is much greater than just your own perspective.

Through others giving me permission to learn their story, I find that even in most of vast disagreement we can do so providing dignity, honor, and respect for one another and how we have reached our conclusions, values, and actions.  I have owned my differences for years, but now I continue to learn how to respect the uniqueness of others.

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