What if I told you to shut up? There would probably be a slug fest of words between the two of us! As a guy who has a loud voice and much to say, I need to be told to shut up sometimes! I recall a time where I was hanging with my youth pastor Steve Spence in his office. He was a busy dude but always made time for me as a mentor does, which I highly appreciated. But this one particular time I saw him the way I had never seen him before; a wave of frustration came over him…and it wasn’t his fault. I started a conversation that really aggravated him. I started talking about myself: Whether it was about how good I was at basketball, preaching, or about students who looked up to me. It was big head city! But what I thought was a great conversation, turned into a bitter taste of humble pie, when Steve stopped doing what he was doing, and turned to me with a flustered look and said…”Shut Up! Could you be any fuller of yourself?” Two fists just hit my gut worse than a fish fillet sandwich from McDonalds. At that moment Steve didn’t have to say anymore. It was clear. I was boasting in myself and praising my works. I was humbled in that moment by my mentor, because my head was so big that it was cramping his space and disturbing his spirit.
Talking about how awesome I am has never cured a disease, saved a person, or lead an army to victory. It actually makes me look ridiculous. It’s as if I must talk about myself just in case people don’t know of the accolades that makes me awesome! Ever felt that way? You’re in a conversation with people and someone is being encouraged or lifted up and your jealousy starts eating at you. In your mind you say “Now is my chance. They have to know about me! They have to know what I’ve done, who I’ve lead to Jesus, how many points I’ve scored in a game, how great my kids are because my parenting skills are incredible!” These may not be the exact things you’re thinking, but maybe something similar. And now your head can’t fit through a windshield, congratulations!
Question is, what are you really gaining from bragging about yourself?
Allow this verse to sting you like it did me:
Proverbs 27:2 says “Let another praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, not your own lips.”
Marinate on that for a moment.
As I was meditating on this passage last week, three things stuck out to me that I believe can help us all when it comes to shutting our mouths and allowing others speak for us. These three things came as a result of preaching to myself, because I have a problem with being braggadocios sometimes.
- Boasting and praising self is for my self-glory: God will not share his glory with others. When we try to put ourselves at the center of His universe, it’s insulting and selfish. God is at the center of His universe and deserves all the praise no matter what.
- Shut my lips of pride before humility shuts it for me: In the moment that my youth pastor told me to shut up, he gave me a lesson on how shouting out how awesome I am is no good. It tells people I think more highly of myself than I ought to. I can lose followers, and possibly even friends if not checked, and checked I was. Just because you have statistics, doesn’t mean you should share them boastfully. You ever hear about the kid in grade school who won the humble badge award but then got it taken away because he wore it? Get over yourself before you hurt yourself. Remember this wisdom from Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
- Let others boast, but don’t get puffed up: When others praise your name for something God did through you, let them do it. Whether it’s in front of you or behind your back, it’s OK for others to honor who you are. However, don’t allow it to make you think “I am the man!” that’s when pride will circle around again and knocks you back down.
I challenge you like I need to challenge myself daily, to shut up before you shout out. We need the gospel daily to remind us what true humility looks like. It’s Jesus taking on human flesh, living a sinless life, dying a dreadful death so that you and me can live for Him and Him alone. That will challenge you to make much of him and less of yourself.