I can be a little hard headed. Ok…I for those who know me I can be really hard headed. Sometimes I need lessons repeated since I didn’t learn what I was supposed to learn the first time.
Speaking with a friend this morning I made the comment that I know all the principles for conflict management – yet there are still times when I just want to yell at a person instead of work through the conflict. Know what I mean? Knowledge is rarely the problem in working through an issue-the real problem is behaving the way we know we should behave (In case you’re curious, I didn’t yell at anyone today…)
The reason I titled this post “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Learned” is because it is something I am still learning. A lesson I repeat often and here it is: Downward Mobility.
What is downward mobility? Well it is exactly the opposite of upward mobility. In American culture we’re taught we should strive for bigger and better things all the time. We feel a pressure from those around us to succeed, to get promoted, to increase, to climb the corporate (or sacred) ladder. Onward and upward – more is better! Don’t you want to be famous? Don’t you want more? You can be an expert!!
Let me ask you this simple question: Are you sure that’s what Jesus would have done? In his book “The Selfless Way of Christ” Henri Nouwen says this:
“I am not denigrating ambition, nor am I against progress and success. But true growth is something other than uncontrolled drive for upward mobility in which making it to the top becomes its own goal and in which ambition no longer serves a wider ideal. There is a profound difference between the false ambition for power and the true ambition to love and serve. It is the difference between trying to raise ourselves up and trying to lift up our fellow human beings.”
Is ambition and promotion a bad thing? No. The Bible even tells us in 1 Timothy 3:1 “Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” Promotion and ambition are not bad things. It is a heart issue.
Think of the example that Christ gave us. “He moved from power to powerlessness, from greatness to smallness, from success to failure, from strength to weakness, from glory to ignominy. The whole life of Jesus of Nazareth was a life in which all upward mobility was resisted (Nouwen, 31)” Jesus behaved in a way counter-culture to the American way of life.
Philippians 2:6-8: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
This is a hard lesson to learn. I have to remind myself on a regular basis that promotion comes from God. Recognition comes from God. I do what I do, not for the approval of man, but for the Glory of God. We can all stand to be reminded of this from time to time. When we feel like we’re being taken for granted – remember you serve for the glory of God. When you desire a greater level of recognition – remember you serve for the glory of God. When you see someone else in your field who is getting recognition for something and you feel that twinge of jealousy – remember you serve for the glory of God. This is genuine downward mobility. Not for your glory, but for His.
This is the selfless way of Christ. “not my will, but thy will be done…” Luke 22:42
Are you willing to lay aside your will? And accept what God has for you?