“A Time to Choose” - Humility.
He grew up simply (a nice word for kinda poor) in Illinois. Among other jobs, he worked as a lifeguard to help support the family, but also participated in high school sports, including as a member of the basketball cheerleading squad. On a needs-based college scholarship, he played (and lettered in) football and ran track (also coached for two years); he acted in 14 plays, and was involved in student government. He was a well-rounded guy! After college, he was a radio broadcaster, actor, and military man, called into active duty during WWII.1
Wherever he went, Ronald Reagan was influential; people were drawn to him, and his stalwart character spoke loudly. It seemed he had a rendezvous with destiny. In support of a presidential candidate, Reagan delivered a speech, “A Time for Choosing,”2 in which he threw down the gauntlet for voters to make the right, hard choices that would affect generations to come in this country. The speech launched Reagan into a place of national prominence.
Ronald Reagan, among so many other things, was humble.
At the much-loved president’s funeral, the elder President George Bush delivered a eulogy that included this story: In 1981, Reagan was recovering from the gunshot wound he received during an assassination attempt. It seems that just days after the surgery that repaired his life-threatening injuries, his aides discovered him on his hands and knees in his hospital room, wiping water from the floor. Why? “Because,” Bush said, “he worried that his nurse would get in trouble".3 That’s humility.
Clothe yourselves with h u m i l i t y, Paul said. Colossians 3.12
Humility - one of the words that captures a spiritual concept and value that the world does not value or teach much about. Humility is sometimes difficult to grasp, humility is often misunderstood. You see, humility is not being self-effacing; humility is not a lack of confidence; it is seeing ourselves in correct position before our Maker and in relation to people.
What do you think of your position before the Lord? Where do you place your own value in regard to others? Who are the 'others'? Others are those I know and love, those I just know, those I know and don't esteem too highly, those I don't know at all. How do I treat these others? Hmmm. It has been said that 'the sign of a gentleman is how he treats those who can be of absolutely no use to him.'
The Scriptures hold out humility as a virtue to be sought after, a quality to embody, a discipline to be practiced and honed. It is revered in both the Old and New Testaments. About 800 years before Christ was born, at a time when Israel and Judah had risen to heights of economic affluence, yet had fallen to depths of spiritual decadence, the prophet Micah penned, "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."4
Then there was Moses, about whom God said "was more humble than anyone else on the face of this earth."5 Think of it--God used this humble man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, parting the Red Sea for them to escape the pursuing Egyptian armies. God used Moses to continue to lead the people, entrusting to him the 10 Commandments. Moses--humble>>> then God honors and exalts him. That is a pattern repeated in Scripture.
What did Jesus have to say about humility? It came in an answer to his disciples’ question, and is so good. In Matthew 18, they asked, "Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" (You can see them, standing abreast of each other and looking from side to side.) Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." The disciples were left standing there, scratching their heads, having to consider what it was about that child . . .
So, what is it about a child? Children trust more simply, love with abandon, are not spoiled by the 'wisdom' and teaching of the world; children are teachable.
Like Reagan, I will say this to you, it is “time to choose”, time to choose humility. Let's teach our children to be humble and let’s embody it in the workplace ourselves. . . indeed, let’s clothe ourselves with humility.
4 - Micah 6.8
5 - Numbers 12.3