A few weeks ago, I had the lesson of a lifetime. The day began like any other day. I went to work, did what youth pastors do (whatever that is) and then I was set to go home. However, I decided to stop by an RVA sandwich shop (got to support local businesses!) for dinner. Well, the sandwich shop was closed for the day, so I was already feeling disappointed. After settling for another local spot, I returned to my car. I turned the car on and attempted to drive away but unfortunately, I soon realized that there was a major problem! I heard this unusual and alarming sound and immediately pulled over into a safe area. My initial assumption was correct. I had a flat tire! For the folks reading this, it might not be a big deal, or it could be anxiety-inducing. I am probably somewhere in the middle. For some reason, I decided that I was going to fix this problem by myself. I mean what’s so hard about changing a tire?! I’ve seen enough movies to know that this takes only five minutes!
One hour later…
I was clearly in way over my head and finally did what I should have done in those first five minutes. No, I didn’t call a professional. Instead, I went to YouTube! In that moment, I went from self-proclaimed expert to humble student. In 90 seconds, the gentleman on the screen taught me everything I needed to know. I successfully put on my spare tire and drove home safely.
I share this story not to embarrass myself and let you know I can’t save you if you are ever in a similar situation (just kidding, I’ll send you the YouTube link!), but instead I share this because it is my story. I had to learn something new in order to succeed in my mission. Prior experience did not help because I had none. In fact, if I had leaned on someone with experience from the get-go, I would have returned home much earlier.
If I am being completely honest, I was rather prideful. I did not have that initial humility that could have spared me from the headache. The more I think about it, the more I realize that my attitude was very similar to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They, too, thought they knew the answers and therefore, did not demonstrate humility.
Jesus and His disciples had numerous encounters with the Pharisees. In one encounter, the Pharisees ridiculed Jesus for associating with tax collectors and those with bad reputations. In response, Jesus did not apologize; instead, He said:
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:12-13).
Jesus’ primary concern was for the lost and broken. The Pharisees focused more on what people were known for, but Jesus focused on what people could be. Jesus says, “Go and learn.” What He said two thousand years ago still applies today. He is the expert on living mercifully, and we should probably look to Him for wisdom. Every day, we should learn and practice what it means to be merciful people. Let us not have the arrogant attitude that I had when changing my tire and the Pharisees had with sinners. Humility is as much a part of learning as it is a part of leading. As Christ-followers, our mission should be to do both—for the glory of God. In closing, I leave you the proverb:
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
Grace and peace,