Hal Brady


There used to be a game called “King of the Hill.” The idea was to run up a hill or a pile of dirt and proclaim, “I’m the king of the hill. Nobody can take me.”

Immediately your companions would charge up the hill and try to push you off the top. After all, everybody knows there’s only room for one king of the hill.

So many people live their lives playing that game. They seek to climb over, control, intimidate, accumulate, advance and achieve in seeking to become king or queen of the hill. The problem is, we’ve got it all backwards.

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The Apostle Paul gives reminder of that when he says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4).

Evidently, Paul was concerned that certain rivalries were beginning to threaten the peace and unity of the Philippian Church. Apparently a few individuals were disrupting the harmony of his hearers by their disputes and selfish exaltation. So Paul pleads with his fellow hearers to live in harmony with one another — to have the same mind — to put the interests of others above their own interests. And Paul bases his appeal on what they have experienced and seen in Jesus Christ.

So, what can we say about humility? First, humility is a discipline! To be sure, humility is a quality of character, a disposition, but it is also a discipline. In other words, this quality of character must be learned.

How did Peter put it in his first letter? He says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” (l Peter 5:6). So humility is not something a person simply has; it is what we are called to do. It is taking responsibility for being humble.

The two FBI agents were talking in the book “Mississippi Burning.” “You’re a bad influence on me, Mr. Anderson.”

“Somebody’s gotta be, Mr. Ward. Ain’t anything more insufferable in this whole wide world than a perfect human being.”

Second, humility is the by-product of serving! One of the most powerful ways to grow in humility is to start serving. As we know, when we start serving, we take our eyes off ourselves and begin to see things through the eyes of another.

There’s a well-known story about Sam Rayburn, who was the speaker of the House of Representatives for many years. One day he heard that a teenage daughter of a Capitol Hill reporter had died. The next morning very early there was a knock at the door of that reporter’s home. He opened the door, and to his surprise, there was Sam Rayburn standing there. He said, “I just came by to see how you are doing.” They invited him in. He sat with them in the kitchen and volunteered to make the coffee for them.

While Sam Rayburn was making coffee, the reporter remembered something. He said, “Aren’t you supposed to be at the White House for a breakfast with the president?”

“I was,” Rayburn said, “but I called the president and told him that I had to sit with a friend.”

Third, humility celebrates the success of others! I’m not altogether sure why it is, but sympathizing with the sorrow of others seems to be easier than celebrating the success of others. However, it probably has something to do with the natural person within each of us clamoring for his/her recognition.

But Paul says, “Out do one another in showing honor.” For sure, this directive has to do with celebrating the success of others.

Dr. David Jeremiah states that his favorite definition of humility is this: “Humility is the ability to use the power and resources we possess for the good of others.”

Truth is, no king of the hill is desired or needed!

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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