Smart people with position and power can do amazingly reckless things and still believe that they are immune to the realities of life.  Even those of us working in a ministry who may not get the limelight must guard our hearts to be able to escape the stupidity that often accompanies unwise escapades.

Today, I received a devotional message from the organization TGIF which is part of  the ministry of Os Hillman.  Though, Congressman Anthony Weiner was not mentioned in the message, I could not help but relate to the things happening to this man who has made death-defying mistakes.

Mohammad Ali is considered the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.  He won 56 of his 61 professional fights and knocked out 37 opponents.  His most famous catchphrase was ,”I am the greatest!”

(LGH NOTE:  The story is told) One day, Ali was seated in an airplane when the flight attendant came up the aisle to make sure that all the passengers had their seatbelts fastened.  Reaching, Ali’s seat, she asked him to buckle up.

“Hmph!” the champ sneered. “Superman don’t need no seatbelt!”

The flight attendant smiled sweetly and replied, “Superman don’t need no airplane, either.” Ali fastened his seatbelt.

The greater our success, the greater the risk of our thinking too highly of ourselves.  Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle observed, “Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.”  Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall.  The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity.”

Each of us must view success as a gift from God.  We must learn to see all of our successes as a gift from God, not our own achievement.  The Lord is the source of all success, all elevation, all blessing.  If you have a good mind and a healthy body, if you live in a land of opportunity, if you have a good education, if you’ve had a few breaks go your way, then you have much to be grateful for–and no cause for arrogance.  You didn’t achieve success; you received it as a gift.  Each of us must voluntarily humble ourselves before God–or God will have to humble us Himself.  I have learned it is better to learn humility voluntarily, than involuntarily!  Paul tell us, “For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Roman 12:3).

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

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Flanked by five Special Gathering members, the new pastor and I drove into the parking lot at the same time last Sunday morning.  Officially,  the minister had become the pastor of the church more than two months before.  Yet, he had been gone several weeks during this time because of previous commitments.  Graciously, he ushered us into the building. 

“Let me see how I can turn on the lights for you,” he said, apologetically.  “The members of this church are so amazingly competent that I haven’t had to learn anything, even how to turn on the lights.”  Smiling cheerfully, he moved through out the building, laughing at his inability to figure how to do the simplest tasks of the church.  He continued to load praise on the membership,  “Our members are efficient and do the work without even being asked.”

God spoke through Micah about humility.  God said that he demands that we walk with humility before our God.  Additionally, Micah had said that we are to be fair and to love being kind.  Fairness we all understand because we know how we want to be treated.  That translates into how we should treat our neighbor.  Kindness get a bit mushy.  However, I believe that kindness is the tender touches that are remembered for years.

While these two attributes are fairly easy to define, humility is harder.  We all know what humility is when we see it.   Nevertheless, I’ve never heard a concrete definition of humility.  But I saw humility in action on Sunday morning as the pastor shuffled through the church looking for lights and praising his members.

Humility is a tricky business.  It involves making yourself look bad so that others can look good.  Or in the case of this humble pastor, it is when we build up others so aggressively that we make ourselves appear needy.   To walk humbly before God means not only putting God first but putting others first in everything that we do.

Shelly is a deacon in Melbourne.  She constantly praises the other members of our chapel while seldom shouting her own attributes.  She has learned how to live the life-giving principles.  Fairness, kindness and humility emulate from her actions and attitude.  Each of us can learn how to live and walk in this way.

Recently, while teaching a class on humility, I carefully explained the concept.  Then I asked the class of adult students who are developmentally delayed, to name someone they knew who was humble.  After they all raised their hands, I said, “Now, if you were going to say me, we need to go over the teaching again.  Because I may be many things; but I am NOT the most humble person you’ve ever met.”  The class laughed because they knew that statement was certainly true. 

I do try to show humility but I have to admit that I enjoy center stage.  The bigger the audience, the better.  I am energized by being in front and in charge.  For me, the easiest joy you can give me is to make me president or chairperson of a project. 

When I first came to be a part of Special Gathering, one of my duties was choir director.  Though I had no formal training in conducting, I took on the position with zeal.  While I had years of experience in teaching and speaking, coming to The Special Gathering meant that I became a part of a world that I hardly knew existed.  Because the church has not often known what to do with this population, being active in the life of my church all my life had provided perfect insulation for me from the mentally challenged community.  I had much to learn and working with a small group in the choir setting was good training.

Secretly, I had wanted to be a choir director since I was a child.  I had been in choirs most of my life and I relished the magical tones produced by the blending of voices.  I carefully studied the various choral directors’ techniques as I sat under their direction.  I evaluated their conducting methods, noting which of their techniques helped the choir become one voice and which ones didn’t work.

As teenagers, we were given formal choral conducting classes in my church and at denominational music retreats.  As instructed by the class teacher, I would stand in front of the mirror and practice my conducting technique.  However, I never imagined that I would have the chance to use the grand gestures.

There is so much about what I do that has been the fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams.  However, I think the most exciting thing about being a choral director is that I am able to see other people taking center stage.  Watching the glow of excitment while others use their musical skills to share the Gospel message has been a great joy in my life. 

Terri can hardly speak.  When she does talk, only a few of her closest friends can understand her.  But she sings with amazing clarity.  During her solo work, Terri shines.  Her strong voice speaks clearly and passionately about her relationship with her Lord.  When Steve joined the choir, he was not physically able to look at me.  It was part of his disability.  Together we struggled to help him be able to overcome this part of his frailty.  Now he can look at me without even thinking twice.  Larry had been an introvert all of his life.  He also has severe sleep apnea.  He struggles successfully to keep awake during our choral work because he wants people to see the Lord working through him.

While humility is not part of my make-up, I never mind giving up center stage for a group of people who work frantically hard to be able to communicate the love of Jesus through song.

Have you seen changes with people as they have learned to express themselves though music?  What part of being in a choir do you enjoy the most?  What are some spiritual truths that you have learned from seeing mentally challenged people taking center stage and expressing their devotion to Jesus?