Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Striving for Meekness

Years ago, there was a consistent refrain in my performance reviews. It didn’t matter who the boss was who did the review; there was always one comment that managed to fall into “development needs” (even then we were too politically correct to call them “weaknesses”).

“You need to be more aggressive.”

We like A-type personalities. We see them as natural leaders. It’s been my experience that the main leadership ability of A-type personalities is being able to talk louder than everyone else (that’s a joke, but not entirely). But the fact is that organizations, and especially corporations, like A-types. A-types suggest confidence and skill. They manage to snag a lot of attention.

I’ve seen a few A-types do things like loiter at funerals and memorial services for work colleagues, waiting for the senior executives to show up. That’s a bit more aggressive than I can stomach.

But the fact was – is – I’m quiet. I don’t do things that draw attention to myself in a crowded room. I don’t look for every opportunity to tell senior executives what I’ve done for them lately.

And I don’t loiter at funerals.

I’m quiet not so much as a deliberate effort to be meek and one day inherit the earth. I’m quiet because that’s my personality. Quiet until I get to know people, that is.

But I think about meekness, and I think about it a lot. It doesn’t mean being timid or afraid or unsure. It means something very different.

“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority,” says A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. “Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life.”

I do not think of myself as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson in my moral life. My moral failings (and that’s “moral” in the “macro” sense) are not something I would characterize as lion-like. But I do know what God’s estimate of me is. I am sinner, and I am loved more than I can possibly imagine.

I may not be an A-type personality, and I may not be CEO one day, but I know my calling is to strive for meekness – meekness as defined by God.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been discussing Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. This week and next week we’re reading chapter 9, “Meekness and Rest.” To see more posts, please visit Sarah’s site – Living Between the Lines.


Fatha Frank said...

It's funny how culture has turned meekness and humility into weaknesses. I guess Jesus was always counter-cultural. Yours, and Tozer's definition of meekness is hard to achieve, but more worth striving towards.

Louise Gallagher said...

I think the other aspect of it is 'vulnerability'. We think, being vulnerable is weak, being who we are, however we are, is a weakness when in fact, it takes great strength and courage.

I think of you as a man of great strength and courage. A man with a beautiful heart.

Unknown said...

As I read, I couldn't help but think how we are set apart by God to be different than the world. The demands of the corporate ladder are no longer are driving motivation. Our relationship and posture towards God humbles us and propels us to serve His purpose in all we do - humble in the knowledge of His love.

David Rupert said...

"You don't loiter at funerals". What an interesting, and funny, observation about yourself.

I guess when I first met you, I was a little surprised at how quiet you were. You are like an observer -- watching, reporting. And that's good.

But on line, you are a lion.

I think of St. Paul, 1 Cor 10.10, "“His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”

Frankly, we could use a few more people who have less to say and more to write

S. Etole said...

"he has stopped being fooled by himself" excellent state of being but difficult at times.

jasonS said...

I love that quote too. Some I have talked to reject Christianity all together because they feel "turning the other cheek" is nothing more than being a doormat. Resting in what God has purchased for us through Jesus' blood is an incredible place to live. Others may not always see or recognize, but we know and God knows. That's more than enough when we embrace true humility. Thank you, Glynn.