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"Appropriate Smallness"

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Am finishing a book right now that I started a couple years ago. Funny how God does that huh and brings books along when your heart is ready or when they apply to what you’re experiencing or can understand more fully at a particular time in your life. The book is called The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. A very practical but challenging book. In the chapter I read yesterday he is talking about the fact that unfortunately as human beings we all suffer from some version of the “messiah complex.” Our humility is often a false sense of humility. Our service is often for what can be gained instead of what can be given. Our idea is that in at least some moments the universe revolves solely around “me” and I’m the only one in it. It’s true isn’t it.

I have been thinking about this so much lately. Let me see if I can explain with a few quotes from his chapter.

“Humility if we could ever grow into it, would not be a burden. It would be an immense gift. Humility is the freedom to stop trying to be what we’re not, or pretending to be what we’re not, and accepting our ‘appropriate smallness.'”

“One of the hardest things in the world is to stop being the prodigal son without turning into the elder brother.”

Sometimes we adults try to be Superman. We try to look smarter or more successful or more spiritual than we are. We try to answer questions we don’t understand. But it is a heavy burden, trying to be Superman when we’re grown up.”

“We must minister out of weakness. The reason we help others is not because we are strong and they need us; it is because if we don’t help them, we will end up a hopeless relic.”

Authentic community is characterized perhaps more than anything else by mutual servanthood and submission.”

Ok so some random ramblings perhaps but hopefully attached to the subject…have been wondering a lot lately if even in our attempts at service it isn’t sometimes as much about us as it is about anyone else. Do I serve because I know I need to and it’s right and because I really want to love as Jesus asked me to, or does it go more like I am serving because I am a big wealthy American and these poor people need me and it makes me feel good about…”me.” Me little old me, are you kidding me??? But it becomes that way sometimes. It’s easy even in ministry if we’re honest to have a major messiah complex. As if any of this somehow depended on me. But we pretend like it does don’t we?

You been around anyone lately who “knows all the answers?” I have and don’t you sometimes want to say will you please just admit that you have no idea. You just made up an answer for something you have NO idea about. Ever done that? Ever made up an answer because not having one somehow made you feel inadequate or incapable? I have. I do.

Appropriate smallness is not a comfortable chair for us to sit in. Doesn’t feel good in some moments. But it does this really amazing thing if even for moments here and there we attempt to settle into it. It reminds us that this world is a great big place and I don’t need to be Superman I can just be free to love and serve, not because someone in the world needs me but because this appropriately small being needs them. I need to serve because it is the one anecdote to my own pride and need to make myself seem to be so much more important than I really am. I need to serve because it reminds me that “me” is right there with every other soul on the planet crawling toward a cross.

Appropriate smallness…I like that! Help us Father, help us somehow get the big picture and take up our small place in it so that we can be free to love and serve instead of spending the majority of our time on our “Superman” facade that crumbles with one look at You.


4 responses »

  1. I have been so busy with wrapping up the end of school and haven’t been able to check your blog… I was blessed this morning to be able to read it…The Lord has taught us all so many lessons by allowing us to be a part of his work in reaching out to the poor…I feel the Christians that are in this poor state truly understand the need for God and have that REAL faith that HE will provide. For so long after teaching in such poor schools, I thought I was blessing the families there… after the Lord humbled me to my knees I realized the families there were the ones blessing me. I have been reading several books lately about Mother Teresa and her walk of with the Lord and am amazed at her humbleness and simple way of life. She always considered herself small. She was a great woman and a good mentor. I know it is sometimes way tough in Honduras and sometimes very lonely but, living there will help you stay focused. This is a big rat race…It’s sometime’s silly to watch what we are all chasing after……It’s like a joke! I’m proud you guys gave it all up! God is smiling! Thanks for your blog…We pray for you guys daily…We hope to make it there soon. Our sweet friends should be there by now! I think P.K. and Raquel left yesterday! Praying for you guys–Paige

  2. Gosh, I’m sorry Jen, but I just can’t help it that I always seem to know the answers to the questions you ask. 😉 Let’s not forget that the sign WAS spelled “TERRAZA” yesterday. haha.Can anyone else feel her happiness at my being here now? 😉 Okok, in all seriousness, I think that many people find this to be true around them… particularly in the church I might add. Everyone seems to “know” exactly what your position should be in respect to certain issues or situations. But I find it fascinating that several people “know” the totally opposite thing of each other. So silly. I think (and I could be wrong) that when people choose to stop allowing themselves to be put in a position to possibly be wrong (so they don’t look stupid to themselves), that’s when they basically decide to stop learning. If you think you know it all, then you don’t need anything more, right? And I think it’s VERY obvious that EVERYONE can ALWAYS learn more… because we’re not perfect. It would seem to me that if you knew everything, then you would know exactly how to avoid every sin… which ironically they are being prideful in thinking they know it all, and sinning. And that’s my 2 cents… maybe it was more like 5. 🙂

  3. Seriously, still no new blog? I’ve only been promising people for like a week now that you would have a fully illustrated version of the events we’ve had. But so far, you’ve obviously shown that you would rather just eat monkey bread and forget that we exist down here in Honduras. I mean, we’re here for the kids, Jen. 😉

  4. Easily I acquiesce in but I contemplate the list inform should secure more info then it has.


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