At church this morning, the pastor’s sermon was about light. The pastor was going into the characteristics of light, and he was drawing spiritual parallels. For example, the pastor said that light makes no noise, and that, similarly, believers should not brag about their good deeds or seek self-advancement.
Many people love humility. I happen to admire it, myself. A while back, I read one of Lou Cannon’s biographies about Ronald Reagan, and Cannon noted that Reagan when he was an actor did not seek to exalt himself in scenes. Rather, Reagan offered suggestions on how scenes could be better, even if that detracted from his own prominence in them. Humility can project a genuine self-confidence.
At the same time, we’re often told in life to toot our own horns in order to survive in this world. That’s the way the world works. I remember being in a Bible study group, and we were studying the story of Joseph, and someone observed that Joseph was not pointing at himself when he recommended that Pharaoh appoint someone to oversee the kingdom during the famine. Joseph did not seek his own advancement, but rather God was the one who enabled him to rise.
That may happen, at times. But there are also times when people do not try to advance themselves, and the result is that they toil unhappily in obscurity. Dating, getting a job, etc., is partially about self-promotion—-selling oneself, in short, bragging. And yet, there does need to be humility even in that. As Dale Carnegie says, the way to win friends and to influence people is to be others-oriented—-to be concerned about them, to show how you can help them.
On some level, I appreciated what the pastor said about light being quiet, for I myself am a quiet person. As a result, many Christians may conclude that I am not others-oriented, since my quietness hinders my social interaction. But can one be quiet (as opposed to being a social butterfly) and yet serve God? I hope so.