Humility and Arrogance in Missions
I am sitting here thinking about how crazy the past week has been and I just realized that it has been exactly one week since I arrived back in Haiti. That means it has been 1 week since I have seen my wife and daughter, 1 week since I began firming up plans for which houses we (us and the kids) will live in, and 1 week since I have driven to every possible rental location in the immediate area surrounding Christianville and Hope Rising. I have a lot of things to share with you guys as the past week has been filled with stories and things that GOD has done. For one thing, a friend of mine, Tracey Deavers, who is the missions pastor at FBC LaGrange came down to help me get ready for the move. When he booked the ticket, he probably thought he would be here to help clean, move the kids, and do any last minute touchups to the houses…He was wrong. Instead, GOD had him here to help me so that I would have someone to talk through decisions, money, and different ideas with and it was very needed. I will share more about that later, I will share about some of the people that I have met as I have been Haitian House Hunting (great alliteration, I think that should have been the title of my last blog post), and I will share with you some about people who have helped me through this process and how GOD provides exactly what we need when we need it.
Today, however, I want to share with you about something that has been on my heart lately. I want to talk about the idea of humility in missions and the many ways that arrogance can creep into our lives no matter what we are doing. First of all, I want to start with the premise that states, “Scripture is clear that humility is a virtue for all Christians and was one of the defining characteristics of the life of Christ.” Here are just a few examples:
- Philippians 2:5-11
- The story of Jesus’ birth and how He came into the world. The very idea that GOD would come into the world as a baby speaks to the humility of Christ in ways that I cannot even comprehend.
- The story of Jesus washing the disciples feet right before he would be betrayed.
- The fact that the GOD of the universe allowed Himself to be hung on a cross.
- The idea that GOD would want to have a relationship with us and that He would call His creation His sons/daughters.
If you are a follower of Christ and you believe in the GOD of the Bible (which you must to follow Christ) then you cannot argue against His humility. If you are not a follower of Christ but you know the story Jesus, you still cannot argue that the person in that story (Christ Himself) is not humble. This also means that if we are truly followers of Christ then we will strive to do the things that He did and we will strive to be as much like Him as we can. I want us to have this foundation at least intellectually because I want to talk about how difficult this particular aspect of Jesus’ life can be.
Humility will play out many different ways depending on your family situation, your work situation, and your worldview/belief system. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to be humble when you are the best at a given profession that everyone else looks up to. Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods (a few years ago), and Peyton Manning are a few athletes that come to mind. Other professions such as doctors, teachers, business men, investors, attorneys, pastors, etc. will generally find their top performers struggling to achieve a level of humility because when you are good at something it is easy to think that it is because of yourself. The truth is that humility is not something that we are normally taught to strive for no matter who we are.
What is my point? My point is that the struggle for humility is very much alive in missions as well. There is a struggle to make ourselves look the best that we can so that other people will be more willing to give to our organization. There is even a struggle, sometimes, to want to say things against other organizations that are doing wonderful things so that people will think better of your mission. There is even a struggle to think that we are doing great things just because we have given jobs to people, taken care of children, built a school, developed a medical clinic/program, or educated people like we are the only ones who could have possibly accomplished what we accomplished. There is a struggle to want to tell “our” story instead of GOD’s story and to think that we are doing things for GOD that nobody else could have done…Almost like GOD needs us.
I was talking with the kids at our nightly service a few nights ago and one of them had just read about how GOD worked through David to defeat Goliath. It is a wonderful story of how powerful GOD is and how much He takes care of His children, but from time to time we can get confused about who the story is about. At the end of the story I asked the kids who the story was about and they said David. I asked them about the story of Noah, Moses, Paul, and Peter and they gave similar answers to each of those questions. I told them that the actual main character of these stories was not David or Paul or Noah but GOD Himself. How sad would it be if the Bible was just a collection of short stories about people that teach us good character lessons but are nothing more than that? How horrible would it be if our faith was grounded in the characters of the Bible rather than the GOD of the Bible?
I can answer that for you…It would be very very sad. The story of Matt Bush would be a terribly short, terribly boring, terribly powerless story if that story was truly about me. The story of All Things New may be even worse than the story of Matt Bush if it was only about an organization, a group of kids, and a group of supporters but in our arrogance we sometimes think it is.
I’ve heard missionaries get up and speak and use the words “I” and “me” more times than a 2 year old as they tell the story of how “they” ended up where “they” are and I never want my life or our ministry to turn into that. I want my life and the ministry of All Things New to always be nothing more or less than a part of the story of GOD and His redemption and His love. The story of everlasting to everlasting, the story of eternity, the story of the GOD of the universe who is love, who is good, and who is perfect and not the story of me because on my own I am the opposite of those things. I understand the story of my life and the story of All Things New is small if that was all the story was. But my story is not found as the story of Matt Bush but the story of an adopted son of GOD who holds everything in His hands. The story of All Things New is not the story of a group of children, a non-profit organization, or the supporters who have rallied around this cause but a tool that GOD can use for His glory.