At the 2011 Internet Retailer Conference, Arianna Huffington said, "Self-expression is the new entertainment."
Huffington was talking about the exponential growth in the use of social media platforms. She was also, however, describing a fact of our contemporary culture.
Now for a second pithy quote: "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble
All it takes to be a media superstar is the willingness to be "out there" in some flamboyant and often pathetic fashion. Social media platforms exploded after the highly "self-expressive" performance offered by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at the 2013 Video Music Awards. It may be impossible for Miley to stop twerking (whatever that really is--forgive me, I'm old), but it was even more impossible for viewers to stop tweeting. The "performance" blew up Twitter at the rate of 30,000 tweets a minute.
The platforms may be different, but the principle is the same. Any publicity is good publicity. And in this environment we lucky preacher types get to talk about humility.
So, let's talk about what it really means to be humble. The marks of real humility are made clear in Luke 14:
- Availability to serve
- Being teachable and open to new input
This isn't about being some sort of doormat or wilting wallflower. Jesus' humility is very assertive and even confrontational. But humility is not about self-promotion. It is about serving others. Humility is not about collecting "Likes" on Facebook. It is about offering help to anyone who might need it. Humility does not depend on a persona or a performance. Instead it is about being me in the fully glory of my God-created being.
In the church, humility may be nothing more or less than believing that someone might have something to tell us that we don't already know. I have been around too many churches lately where the knowledge quota has already been filled. There is no room for any new input fro outsiders, thank you very much. Many churches would rather die than learn. In such places real humility is not an option.
Others will gauge and recognize authentic humility. Self-promotion will result in social demotion. We all recognize the efforts in ourselves and others to climb whichever ladder happens to matter to us at the moment. And we all get a bad taste in our mouths when that climbing happens. We all recognize the people who want to do nothing but help others. And we can't help but elevate such folks in our thinking and often in our churches and businesses. Humble people really do often get "called up higher" in the end.
Of course, that's not why they do it. They are just trying to be the best persons they can be, using what God has given them for the sake of others and for the life of the world. That's real humility. That's true greatness.
They are the same thing. I think I read that somewhere.