Humble Yourself

Today’s reading:  James 4:6-12

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (James 4:6-10).

Have you ever read the book Humble Inquiry – The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Edgar H. Schein (2013)?  I read it a couple of years ago when I took on a new leadership role.  The teams I had taken over included a good number of the most well-tenured subject matter experts on our product lines and supporting processes.  Essentially my very first job in the department was to lead four teams who knew way more than I did.  It was a daunting task.

Schein defines Humble Inquiry as – the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person. He outlined a simplistic three-step process to implement this method:

  1. Do less telling.
  2. Learn to do more asking in the particular form of Humble Inquiry.
  3. Do a better job of listening and acknowledging.

Almost two years in, I’m happy to report I am a believer in the art of humble inquiry. The secret to the method is to be vulnerable enough to let others see your heart.  Getting them to understand the motive behind your actions – to build a trust relationship to help achieve common objectives – is not a fast process.  I’ve found, however, it is worth the investment.

Similarly, in our text for today, James guides his readers on how to build a trust relationship with God to achieve common objectives.

  1. Humble yourself before God – yield to his authority, let him help you make wise choices and avoid many pitfalls. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
  2. Resist the devil – unlike God, remember Satan doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
  3. Purify your heart – replace your desire to sin with a desire to be pure before God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:22-23).
  4. Be truly sorry for your sins – express remorse for what you have done. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
  5. Bow down before the Lord – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

Building a trust relationship with God isn’t fast either, but it is definitely worth the investment.  The good news is God already has it figured out. He will be by our side and help us every step of the way.  We just need to trust and obey.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act
(Psalm 37:3-5).