Welcome This verse is the starting point for today’s discussion. I certainly don’t consider myself wise by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that pride can definitely lead to some unwanted lessons in humility. I share my stories, though they may be painful or embarrassing, with the hope that others may learn from my mistakes or at least make a connection that says, “You are not alone.” Thank you for stopping in for the second part of my two-part devotional in humility. Click here if you would like to go back and read part one.
Food For Thought Yesterday I told the first of two stories from my own life experience when God felt it necessary to teach me some lessons in humility. Today I will be sharing the second key experience. This one is incredibly more difficult to deal with than my running story. It has brutal honesty about some of my own actions that are a little hard to share. It’s another good example of how we must use our God-given talents to serve His kingdom and continue to give Him the glory, while not thinking too highly of ourselves. If you are familiar with me and my blog, you know that I was a teacher for 18 years, until last spring. I had always felt that teaching children was my God-given talent and my purpose for existence on this planet. Over that time period I always felt I was giving more than 100 percent, while getting little in return. I put in long hours and invested my heart, mind, and finances into running the best kindergarten classroom I knew how. Along the way, I became discouraged by the politics, mandates, and testing that seemed to dominate public education. But I kept on doing what I thought I did best…teaching little kids. I would boast to my husband and other family members how far the kids in my class had come in their reading or math skills, continually taking all the credit because that’s what my tunnel vision could see…my own efforts. Never mind the fact that I worked as part of a TEAM. Never mind the fact that God blessed me with these talents and abilities. Never mind the fact that I thought the way I taught reading was better than any of these “packaged programs” or other suggested ideas. The more discouraged and unhappy I became in my profession, the more I made comments at home, like “good luck replacing someone as good as me” or “if they think they can do so much better, let them have my job, I don’t want it anyway!” I continually thought, “I’m good at what I do, they are lucky to have me, and they will never get rid of me.” Let me assure you, these are all the statements of pride that come right before shame and defeat!
While I did pray for a change in my career, and God did answer that request, it came with hard lessons that I’m still working through. I am a person that always believes people come into our lives for a reason. I believe God allowed a difficult administrator to enter my life for a reason, eventually leading me to end my teaching career. This administrator had no trouble letting me know that I was not nearly as good of a teacher as I thought I was. This person had no problem letting me know that everything I did for my students and families was “not good enough,” and yes, those were her words. So I should not have been so surprised when I made a serious, yet unintentional mistake, that it would become exaggerated into something else, putting me in a very difficult position. The words said to my face were hurtful. The words neatly typed on the report were hurtful. I was SO angry at the situation I was in. I was disappointed that a school district I had worked for 15 years would take her word over mine. I was devastated about the effects this would have on my future. My career was a game to this person, and there was no regard to my own feelings. Basically, this person wanted me gone and found a great way to accomplish the task. But I cannot put all the blame in her court. I was so wrapped up in being good at teaching reading, writing, and math, that I didn’t think there could be consequences for other errors in my profession. And just in case you’re wondering…my big mistake involved dismissal transportation for ONE student, but I’m not here to defend myself or make excuses today. I am telling this story because I KNOW that some of my comments and actions were full of pride. I was making myself out to be more important in my field than I really was. I was insinuating that I would never face consequences for mistakes simply because my instructional data showed I was too valuable as a classroom teacher. I learned in August that I was easily replaced, much to the delight of the administrator, who actually knew before I resigned who she wanted to take my position. Ouch! I think what bothers me most now is that I’m not even missed, like a piece of old worn-out furniture that no one wanted any more. Through this experience I promise you, I have been humbled greatly!
A year ago, I was playing the victim. How could this happen to me? But I’ve said a lot of prayers over the past 11 months and I’ve spent a lot of time studying God’s Word, working through various circumstances of my life. Everything I have read, studied, and felt from Him has pointed to this being a lesson in humility, as well as an answer to my prayer for change. To live a truly Christian life, I cannot think of myself as invincible, in any setting, work or otherwise. As I work to improve my relationship with God, I have to accept that sometimes uncomfortable events happen for my own good. Sometimes the lessons I need the most, also hurt the most. I believe this is so I will remember and apply them to my future experiences. I had reached a point where my life was saturated with negativity and unhappiness. I had strayed from God’s calling for me. So if all of the events of 2016 and 2017 serves to meet a greater purpose, especially when it comes to my spiritual life, I find myself indeed a little bit wiser than before.
Today’s Scriptures As you can see from this extensive list, there are plenty of reminders from God, via scripture, that we are called to be humble. These verses are some of my favorites from my studies over the past year as I have been working on humility.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
1 Samuel 2:7 “The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.”
Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
Psalm 149:4 “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”
Proverbs 3:34 “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 18:12 “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”
Proverbs 22:4 “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.”
Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride brings him low; but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”
Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
Today’s Recipe Oh, the humble black-eyed pea. This legume has a long history as a southern staple and affectionately termed “soul food.” While I find them quite tasty, I think I’m most fond of black-eyed peas for their economic value and versatility. I have shared before that I have the heart of southern girl even though I currently reside in the Midwest. So, I have no trouble pulling together a warm and hearty Hoppin’ John for dinner on these below-zero Midwestern nights. Now I’ve made Hoppin’ John several different ways, but this is my favorite, as I like it best cooked low and slow, allowing all the ham-yummies to mingle with the peas as they cook! You can also use smoked sausage or a good thick bacon, but it’s definitely best with some type of smoky pork flavor.
Notes–This recipe requires about three hours of cooking time for the black-eyed peas. This recipe makes a lot of food, so it’s great for a crowd or lots of leftovers.
- 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas (rinsed and picked through, but you do not need to soak them)
- 1 1/2 lb. country ham, cubed (a great way to use up leftover holiday ham)
- 1 large onion, rough-chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups water (possibly more during cooking if it begins to dry out)
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 celery ribs, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (you may want 2 if your group likes it spicier)
- 6 green onions, sliced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 8-oz box jambalaya rice mix
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- fresh baked cornbread
In large Dutch-oven style pot, combine peas, ham, onion, garlic, bay leaves and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and allow to cook about 2 hours. Stir periodically and check liquid level, adding water if it begins to stick or dry out. When peas are soft, add vegetables, seasonings, rice, and 3 cups water. Raise temperature to medium and continue to cook another 20-25 minutes, or until rice is tender. Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro and pair with fresh-baked cornbread.