Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happiness and Humility

We had a great sermon this past Sunday. Our pastor is a fun guy (if you watched our talent show videos, you can hear him laughing and calling out suggestions- he's the one who called out "flush the toilet" in my improv skit). He's doing a new sermon series and he kicked it off by dressing in tie dye, a long hair wig, and birkenstocks. And he's encouraging all of us to wear our tie dye every week. For the record, I don't own any tie dye anything so a trip to Goodwill might be in my future.

It was a good sermon to kick off the series. The main point was to live a life of humility (meaning to be dependent on God) and to choose happiness.

"The popular idea of happiness is having the right circumstances. That's called 'when and then' thinking. God's way to happiness is having the right attitude."

"Humility doesn't mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less. Humility gives you more time to think of others."

Sometimes, I'm really struck by how life works. I've had experiences where I really connect to something in a sermon or through prayer and then I'm specifically challenged in that area within days.

This was one of those experiences.

A sermon on humility.

Monday morning, a co-worker comes into my office. It's a regular occurence for this person to stop by. They've made some major changes over the past few months and have lost a lot of weight. It's very impressive and we've had some lengthy and interesting conversations on the subject of health and weight.

This person has been sharing their plans with me- get to a certain weight and then start a fitness routine. Shares with me this new plan... they had gone out to run and ended up doing 3.1 miles (5K) and it was great so the new plan is to run 5K every day. I was surprised- given my experience with running, jumping right in to running 3 miles everyday isn't what any runner I know would ever advise. My face must have given away what I was thinking because the next comment- the exiting comment (and I wish I could capture this person's tone because how this was said is important)- was:

"What? It's just a 5K. That's nothing! That's easy! Who can't do that?"


I've been at this running thing for a year. I still can't run the entire distance in a 5K. At this point, I can't even run an entire mile without walk intervals.

It's one thing to say "I ran 5K and felt really great about it!" I'm all for those kinds of statements. I like to share in the joy of someone's accomplishment. I love to be a cheerleader. I'm great at supporting people, encouraging people.

That whole humility thing up there... being on the other end and hearing someone not only share what they've done but also degrade what others do... I didn't like it.

Humility doesn't mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.

It's easy, sometimes, to confuse confidence and assurance with egoism. I'm sure there are people who think I'm full of myself.

There are even more people, though, who know me and know what I give to others and have experienced my kindness and my compassion and my enthusiasm.

If we all spent time thinking of ourselves less... loving ourselves, being proud of ourselves, being happy with ourselves but thinking of ourselves, our wants, our desires, our accomplishments, and even struggles less... what kind of world would this be? If we all put out an energy that gave more emphasis to the thoughts and feelings and struggles and accomplishments of others, I'm guessing that there would be a lot more compassion flowing freely all around.

Which was the point of the sermon. Happiness and humility go hand in hand. So maybe my challenge for the next time I'm faced with someone who is egotistical or who feels better about themselves by putting someone else down is not to get bristly about, not to get angry or hurt. But instead to realize that they, perhaps, are seeking happiness.



Bill Lisleman said...

good words - that's a good way to think about humility. I hate big egos.

Heather said...

LOVE this!

And hey, don't let that co-worker's insensitive words get you down - activity is to be praised, no matter how 'small,' 'easy,' or whatever such diminishing comment fits.

kbiermom said...

I love that definition of humility. Getting stuck thinking on ourselves can be the root of all kinds of trouble, definitely. And it doesn't even have to be with positive emotions -- thinking of ourselves with negative emotions like jealousy, worry, guilt -- that kind of thinking is a lack of humility, too, and just as destructive to ourself and our relationships with others.

To your friend's statement -- "who can't do a 5k...?" I'd like to give him/her a classic Miss Manners dumbfounded facial expression, coupled with, "you're kidding, right?" :0

Nancy said...

I loved the sermon too Liz! It made me thing about a lot of things and people lately.

Shell said...

It sounds like this was a fabulous sermon!

Rebecca said...

Sounds like a great sermon!

C. Beth said...

Great wisdom, Liz!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

AMEN sweetie. This world would be a much better place if everyone thought of themselves a little less and other allot more.

I have the opposite problem most of the time. I always put other before myself and end up leavin' me out. Oops!!!

God bless ya and have a fantastic day girl!!! :o)

Kim said...

I think whatever inspires you to live a better more examined life is great! I agree that our society's current focus on when I win the lottery I'll finally be happy is very unfortunate.

The No Wonder Mom said...

Well put. What a great sermon. I like that your paster made the clarification of what humility means. Great post!

Annie said...

You made the point I was trying to think of for so long! Where is the line between meeting your own needs, being proud of yourself and yet not being overly selfish? At one point in my life I was totally thinking of my self NOT AT ALL. Like putting myself so last that I was exhausted and run down. I had to reverse it. But I watched and made sure I didn't swing too much to the other side of egotism, of "ME FIRST" ya know?

Yes, I love the point you made, it is perfect!

~Annie of

Unknown said...

I love this. It irks me when people think too highly of themselves! I mean, hello, we are great because we are God's children, but we do not need to be arrogant. That is just bad news!

Karen M. Peterson said...

Two things.

First, thank you so much for the reminder about humility and what it really means. I agree with you that the world would be unstoppable if we all thought of each other more.

Second, thank you SO much for sharing where you're at in running. I am training for my first 5K and finished 3.25 miles yesterday. I ran 1.25 miles of that, and only in chunks. I was feeling bad about it, and feeling like I'll never get to a point where I can run even a whole mile without stopping. Knowing that you're in the same boat and that you haven't given up gives me the confidence to keep going.

Emily said...

I hope you have shown your blog to your pastor, he made quite an impact on you.

Good sermon and great post, and keep on running!