A while back, I met someone for the first time at an event. After our initial introductions, we started to have some small talk. He began to tell me about what he does and so on. As the conversation progressed, I became distinctly aware that the man continued to talk and talk and talk about…himself. In our fifteen-minute conversation, I tried a few times but realized quickly that I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. And the few opportunities I had to speak, I could see that this man wasn’t listening to what I was saying.
I left the encounter with a negative impression of that person. Well, to be honest, I criticized that person in my heart and made a judgment that he wasn’t someone with whom I wanted to become friends. But I caught myself in my judgmental attitude, and I thought to myself that the Lord is actually trying to teach me something through this negative encounter: When I talk with someone, I shouldn’t be self-centered or self-focused; I shouldn’t just talk and talk about myself. But rather, I should be concerned and interested in the other person. I should focus on the needs of the other person and really listen and care about the other person.
But later that day, I found myself continuing to think about my encounter and was still bothered by it. I realized that what bothered me even more than his self-centeredness, was that under a veil of humility, he was actually boasting about himself as he talked about what he does and has done. I saw his pride, hidden behind a facade of humility. But on top of that, there was a sense of wanting to prove himself, maybe even with a little bit of a competitive spirit. So underlying his pride, I saw his insecurity. I saw that he cared a lot about what others thought about him.
Then I knew why I was still so bothered by my conversation with him. In him I saw myself; rather, God showed me who I am. I am self-centered and self-consumed. I am prideful and boast in my accomplishments. I am competitive. I am insecure. I care too much about what others think about me.
It wasn’t that the Lord was teaching me to be a good listener (though that is a great thing!), but more deeply, he was exposing me to myself. I was quick to judge and criticize that person, because that person is me. It’s the old adage that says that you dislike what you see in another person because that same thing is in you – like what bothers you about your children, or spouse, or parent, or friend. That was why I was so bothered. And I wondered, “When people meet me for the first time or talk with me, am I like that man? Do people feel the same way as I did?” Unfortunately, maybe it is true.
And thus, the Lord humbled me…again.:)
Nothing that I have is mine; nothing I have done is apart from the grace of God. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows ME, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Are you a good listener or do you mostly talk about yourself? Are you self-consumed? Are your trying to boast about yourself under a veil of humility? Do you seek to prove yourself to others because you are insecure?
Focus on Christ and his saving work on the cross. In him, we are able to turn away from ourselves and focus on God and others; we won’t boast in our abilities because we are reminded that all that we do is through God and his grace alone; we don’t have reason to be insecure in ourselves because our security rests in Christ. Jesus sets us free from ourselves and the sin that bogs us down, so that we are able to boast in Christ and his work alone.
Thanks for reading,
- We praise God for Damon’s continued progress on his dissertation.
- Praise God for our home church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in LA, that is celebrating their particularization this month.
- Praise God for opportunities to meet new friends.
- Relationship building – please pray for continued wisdom and opportunities to meet new people, build deeper relationships, and opportunities to share the gospel.
- Language Studies & School:
- Pray for diligence and perseverance in learning and using the language.
- Pray especially for Aliya to gain some fluency in the next 6 months as she will begin Japanese public school next April.
- Pray for Aliya as she feels lonely at times because she cannot speak Japanese. She has expressed this about youchien and also about swimming class. She may have some anxiety because she cannot speak or understand Japanese very well. Also, she is still having a difficult time eating the school lunch. In October, the girls will eat school lunch every day (since YM will be gone for about 2 weeks); please pray for Aliya to start liking Japanese school lunch!
- Health: Please pray for good health, especially as the weather gets colder.
- Increased faith in God: Please pray for humility and serving hearts. Pray for our girls, that we would instill faith in them and raise them in godly ways. Please pray for good communication in and protection of our marriage.
- YM’s trip to the US (10/2-14): Pray for a good trip as she helps her sister, who is having a baby, for good health, and for Damon and the girls as they stay in Japan, doing regular life!