SCRIPTURE: Luke 14:11 (NIV)
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.
The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.
Examples of humility can be found throughout life if we would only look to find them and yet, humility is a hard attitude to incorporate into our spiritual walk. As one mentor was fond of sharing, “Humility is that one thing that once you think you have achieved it, it will be lost.”
Yet, it remains the goal for all of us especially for us who live in a world that loves to pour out praise for the achievements accomplished. After awhile those praises begin to take root in our heart … and our mind … with the result that we begin to think of ourselves in that light.
Oh, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in doing a good or even a great job as long as we do not begin to think of ourselves in that way. Booker T. Washington’s example is a perfect case in point. Look at all that he had achieved, all the honors that were bestowed upon him, the high office to which he had been elevated, but there he was chopping wood for a woman who made some assumptions based on the color of his skin.
Could we, would we have done the same thing? Now that is the real question for us. Would we have chopped the wood or would we have informed the dear lady as to whom she was speaking to? Probably more of the latter than the former don’t you think. And yet, looked at the result of his humble attitude thousands of dollars given to his institute. Which causes me to wonder what we might be missing by not taking the road less traveled, humbling ourselves and becoming the servant to others. Who knows what could be accomplished and what further achievements we just might realize.
Gracious God cause us today to humble ourselves with true humility and if it means to chop wood then we pray that our axe might be sharp.