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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whom are you like in your greatness?



I had started to read Ezekiel 31 but couldn’t get past verse 2 for quite a while. As the Lord commanded Ezekiel to ask: ‘Whom are you like in your greatness?’ the question hit me pretty strong in my spirit. I found myself replaying an interesting conversation I had had with one of my sistas a couple of weeks ago.

I truly can’t quite recall how we got on the subject but I remember we'd ended up talking about intellectual arrogance and how among the very best of us, this is something that slowly creeps up on us if not checked intentionally and with a leaning on the Holy Spirit. We talked about how for people who are blessed with certain levels of intellectual capacity; who have the gift of highly analytical minds – able to see unique perspectives to just about everything; or who have the gift of oration and are able to command presence and attention, there is a major need to be careful not to allow intellectual arrogance, or a silent pride – sometimes cloaked in an outwardly apparent humility, to set in.

You know sis, if you think deeply enough about the assertion in the last paragraph you may find that you have been guilty of this; or you have been one of those who have unwittingly contributed to the build-up of silent pride in someone or the other that you know (a bit too much praise, a little too much adulation, undue dependency? sigh!!!). In truth, it is more than likely that each of us has worked both sides of that equation in times past. I know I certainly have. Hmmm! The Lord will help us!

Using ourselves as examples, my sista and I acknowledged that, to the glory of God, we are both women operating successfully and commanding respect in our largely male-dominated industries. We had talked over the fact that we tend to speak in strong, focused and very measured ways at meetings and so tend to attract significant attention at corporate gatherings. We also manage to sound pretty intelligent (it appears), stringing the right words in an impressive-enough order. We both have quite a few people who tend to depend on our counsel – personal or professional, to make critical life decisions for themselves. We are regularly engaged in speaking, training/teaching roles in both the secular/business world and in the church, usually to a good ovation at the end. We are both pretty well read, but continue to pursue our personal and professional education and development. We acknowledged yes, that our lives are outwardly and upwardly progressive. We acknowledged that this is all great, but that it can all also make us fall into a place of pride if we take our eyes off Jesus. 

Does any or all of the above sound like your life sis? I suspect so. For many of us who may be reading this blog, at the various levels that we may be at in life, in our families, in our businesses, in church, or in our professional associations, we may have achieved a level/levels of recognition in our various endeavours that give us some sense of identity, validated by the external adulations of others around us. What’s wrong with this? Are we not designed to use our potentials to move us to undeniable levels of achievement that add value to society and those around us? Are our lives not meant to count for something distinct and tangible here on earth? Certainly sis! Certainly!

The challenge which we identified however is that as we grow, as our achievements begin to bring us recognition, respect and honour; then we need to be very careful in this space not to be overcome by intellectual arrogance and/or a sense of entitlement, and believe me, this is so much easier said than done…. but for God!  It is so easy to think of pride from a very generic definition standpoint, but a hard look at our lives may reveal that we are walking in silent pride. How easy it is for those of us who train people to find ourselves listening sometimes with only half an ear to other trainers, mentally concluding that they really don’t have anything new to teach us. How easy it is to be dismissive of a speaker, mentally declaring to yourself how much better you could have delivered his/her presentation. How easily we expect recognition when we walk into certain place, and bristle when we don’t get it at all or in the manner to which we have become accustomed. How easy it is to ascribe glory to yourself at the end of a standing ovation, especially when in your view, you really worked to give a good presentation. How easy to forget that the glory is for the Father alone Who causes our gifts to make a way for us. I could go on sis, but you surely get my drift.

It’s great to be great, of that there is no question. Nothing is as satisfying as seeing your gifts and abilities bear fruit and make impact. It is undoubtedly gratifying when your greatness begins to shine through and be audibly and outwardly recognized by those around you. But the Lord asks of you and I today: ‘Whom are you like in your greatness?’

We serve a God who hates pride. He is a God of love yes, but His Word makes plain the things that He hates. Pride is a big one on His list. The Lord loves the humble and He loves to exalt them - to His glory alone. As we grow in our earthly greatness therefore, we must keep our eyes fixed on our spiritual greatness. Earthly greatness wins us recognitions, applause, accolades, etc in the eyes of man. But what sense does it make to be a ‘great’ woman in the eyes of the world, and yet be small in the eyes of the Lord? When we allow the silent prides of our earthly greatness to creep into our lives, we tarnish the image of our greatness in the face of the Lord. In the place of pride, no matter how small, we take away from our conformity to His image and glory. If we are not careful, we forget that the Lord is the source of all our wisdom, our knowledge and insights, our understanding and perceptions. Effectively, for each great thing we achieve, it is the Lord Who is deserving of the honour, the accolade, the applause. He it is Who is our greatness and not we of ourselves. 

My sista and I were laughing at the beginning of our conversation. But as we went deeper, we ended up in a prayer of ‘Lord help us! Lord we need Your grace’. As I sat quietly and reflected over the question in Ezekiel 31 v 2, the prayer in my heart was ‘Father, consume every silent pride in me. Lord, take away everything in me that is taking away from giving glory to You. Lord, let my greatness be wholly in Your image. Let me be like You in my greatness Lord! Lord, as You continue to lift me up and enlarge my coast and areas of influence, Lord keep me humble. Help me to continually show genuine love, respect and honour for my fellow men and women, your children whom You have also created in Your image and likeness. Lord, let my greatness be only in You Lord, as an instrument of Your glory; as a testimony of Your faithfulness; as a magnet to draw men unto You; and to further Your Kingdom here on earth. Lift me up, not so that I will exalt myself oh Lord; but that You and You alone may be exalted as I reflect Your image in every area of my life, IJMN’.

I speak greatness into your life sis. I speak divine enlargement. And I pray along with you that as the Lord lifts you up, as He makes you greater still; that you will not submit yourself to to the accolades of men, nor the pride that steals in alongside of that. I pray that you (and I) will rather stay focused on the Father; that indeed the image of our greatness shall be forever and only…. the image of God.

Be blessed sis…. For you surely are



4 comments:

  1. Ouch, ouch ouch!!!!!!! Got to admit to the whole 'silent pride thing'. Got to admit to the whole 'being used to the accolades of men' tip too. Having recently relocated back to Lagos from the UK, one of the things that I find most testing is having to 'sell' myself. I am well known and respected in my field in the UK and if i tooled up saying i was available for work, i would be very sought after. I hadn't realised how much that meant to me, until i turned up here and people are like ' who are you?'

    Thank goodness for posts like this, that cause one to stop, think and check oneself where necessary. This is one prayer i'll definitely be reminding myself of.

    Be blessed sis. Thanks for a great post.

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  2. Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!!! Definitely got to 'fess up to the whole 'silent pride' thing as well as the 'accolades of man thing too. Having recently relocated from the UK, one of the things I'm finding most testingbis having to 'sell' myself in terms of my expertise. I'm well known and respected in my field in the UK and so having to start again from scratch here is a bit trying. Thanks for an excellent post. This is one prayer i will most definitely be reminding myself of.

    Be blessed.

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  3. Thank you for this timely reminder . The skills, gifts and special abilities God has given us are for an intent and a purpose. They should cause us to depend on Him and to give Him all the glory due to His name. Having been on both sides of the equation, I can testify that silent pride can subtly be cloaked in an outward appearance of humility. God help us. We need to be reminded of this often. God bless you for sharing this message.

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  4. Thank you, as always. What do I have that I do not owe to Him? As I read through, I realized that my pride comes from being the last woman standing when others "shirk" their responsibilities. Hmmmmnnn! I think now, that maybe I am the last woman standing, because I have not chosen to share responsibility with others. My silent pride is cloaked in an appearance of humility and long-suffering. LORD, please help me.

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Thank you for taking the time to share you thoughts. You are loved and appreciated.

About Me

Entrepreneur, Mentor, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend. A firm believer in God. Walking in faith everyday that by His grace, I will achieve harmony in all areas of my life, and make measurable impact in the lives of other women of the world

WORD FOR THE WEEK

LUKE 1:

34“-How can this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

JEREMIAH 2:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

1st CORINTHIANS 1:

25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

Colossians 1:

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [[z]unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.