Grace of humility – discipline of service

By Dave Henning / November 12, 2021

“More than any other single way, the grace of humility is worked into our lives through the discipline of service. . . .  Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness.  The flesh whines against service, but screams against hidden service.  It strains for honor and recognition.”- Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

In Chapter 8 (“Servanthood: Pouring Ourselves Out for Others”) of Survival Guide for the Soul, Ken Shigematsu echoes Richard Foster’s concept of hidden service.  Because humble acts of service counter our pride and overweening ambition.

Hence, Ken cites Andy Crouch’s insightful book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power.  In his book, Andy, a Christian journalist, writes that his work takes him away from home several times a month.  And as he presides at meetings or gives speeches, Andy describes how people treat him with ‘absurd courtesy’ and shower him with the ‘accoutrements of power.’

However, back at the ranch, unwashed dishes pile up in the kitchen sink.  Therefore, in the final minutes before heading to the airport, Andy practices the discipline of washing dishes.  Sometimes while the taxi waits outside his house!

Recently, Ken visited Nagasaki, Japan.  On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Japanese martyrs were crucified for their faith.  Above all, their captors forced them to march about six hundred miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki.  It took about a month.  Most significantly, as they arrived at the hill for their crucifixion, all but one, a twelve-year-old boy, received their crosses. So, the boy asked, Where is my cross?  As a result, the captors obliged, making the boy martyr twenty-six.

In conclusion, Ken counsels:

“When we follow Jesus Christ, our lives may flourish.  But we must never forget the way of Jesus is also shaped literally and figuratively by the cross.  As some theologians put it, we are called to a ‘cruciform’ way of life. . . .  With the twelve-year-old Japanese boy, we are called to ask, ‘Where is my cross?’  How can we lay down our lives in self-giving love for others?”

Today’s question: How do you work the grace of humility into your life through the discipline of service?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A faithful friend = a sturdy shelter”

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Dave Henning

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