For 38 years, I worked for a utility company. I started my career there as a meter reader and retired as a supervisor. I had worked my way up through various levels in the union until one day, I was promoted to management as a customer service trainer. After several successful years in training and development, I decided to apply for a position as a supervisor. Things didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped they would and eventually, I was faced with a decision. I could stay in my position as a supervisor and risk the possibility of losing my job, or I could take a demotion and become a customer service representative, working alongside employees I had once trained or even supervised. I chose the latter and learned an important lesson in humility.
Humility is a characteristic that all believers should try to display in their lives. It is a characteristic that is pleasing to God (1 Peter 3:4). God desires that we clothe ourselves in humility. In our relationships with others, we are to display humility. When we do, we receive God’s grace (1 Peter 5:5). On the other hand, pride puts us in opposition to God. It causes us to fall and leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). In my job situation, if I had decided not to take the demotion because of pride, I would very likely have dealt with a negative outcome. But, instead, in humility, I took the demotion and eventually worked my way back to a supervisory position, where I then was successful.
Probably the greatest example of humility can be seen in the Christmas story. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, came to earth in human form, being born as a tiny, dependent, fragile baby. And, although He was God’s Son and, as such, could very well have been born in a palace, He was born in a stable, a place where animals were kept. Although He could have slept in the best crib that money could buy, He instead slept in a manger, the feeding trough of animals. Although Jesus was divine, He became like us, and then in humility and obedience, gave His life on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
As we celebrate His birth in just a few days, as we look at manger scenes in our homes and churches, as we sing our beloved Christmas carols, may His example of humility shine forth and lead us to follow His example.