by Mark Dijkens, Regional Director CBN Europe
The Bible speaks often about humility and how we are called to ‘walk humbly with our God’ (Micah 6:8). Not without reason, as we all know that ‘pride comes before the fall’. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly relate to issues of pride and how this caused issues in my walk with God and others.
I have always been a perfectionist. Since a young age, I developed a heart for service which made me want to serve others and make people happy. I remember how at family parties I used to ask family and visitors what they would like to drink, and I would serve their order on a tray and with a smile. In high school we had an opportunity to sign up for a work experience week in an industry of choice, and I choose hospitality. I became a waiter in a restaurant for a week, and was sold on the concept. I enrolled in Hotel and Catering College, and ended up managing a hotel in my home country, The Netherlands.
My striving for perfection led me to work in four and five star establishments, and eventually enroll into a Butler and Household manager course. I graduated with distinction and worked my first jobs as a private butler and personal assistant. I received the Butler of the Year award and featured in various magazines and publications. I took great pride in my work and service to my employers and guests, and truly enjoyed making people happy at the highest level. Yet, that pride was also an internal enemy that kept me from fully surrendering to God. Everything I achieved, I did in my own strength, although I knew the Lord since I was 17 years old. I loved the Lord but held firmly to my pride and self reliance.
I remember it very well when the Lord called me out of this line of work, and He spoke audibly in my ear: “trust me, and I will give you something better”. I did not know where to go, or that eventually he would lead me to CBN. First, I had to learn to what it meant to truly serve. The next chapter in my life became my preparation for the future, and I had to learn humility like never before.
After giving notice to my employer (who did not understand why I would do such a thing), I had to train up my successor. During the last half year of my employment I worked in the office. No longer as butler, but as office clerk. I suddenly had to report to the person I trained up, and be accountable for my work to someone above me, other than my employer. I really struggled with this, and God taught me great lessons of humility. He broke down the foundations of self-reliance I built over the years, teaching me to trust Him more every day. For the very first time, I could surrender my career, my marriage, my future to the God who called me by name. I surrendered everything I knew, all that I learned and the things I took pride in for so long to Him. I had to, as the future required a different kind of service that could not depend on my pride, but on surrender only. This was my first lesson about humility, and it was liberating.
God allowed me to graduate to the next class in His ‘school of life’, and He introduced me to CBN. I started to work in the UK office in Hereford as personal assistant to the director. I learned many new things, and finally had an opportunity to serve God and people in a way I never had before. This is now more than 16 years ago, and God has been truly faithful to His promise. He made all things well and brought blessings in my life I could never imagine.
Looking back over the past 16 years, I am humbled by God’s mercy, His grace and His unfailing love. He broke down my pride, and taught me humility. All is because of Him, and all is for Him. I have no claim to any of it, yet He made a way for me to fulfil His purpose and plans for my life.
This is just part of my testimony, and reading back what I wrote above would almost give you the impression that I have graduated in God’s ‘masterclass in humility’. However, this is far from the truth as each day, God is teaching me new lessons on the subject.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12). At times when I think I am strong and have it all together, I am most at risk to fall. I still tend to gravitate to my self-sufficiency and wanting to fix the situation, rather than defaulting asking God for help. Do you recognise this? At times, I am still making the same old mistake by thinking that I can resolve a staff issue, a financial challenge or trying to fix someone else’s problems instead of asking God for wisdom and help. Asking for help requires humility and understanding one’s limitations. It requires us to ask from God, who so much wants to be the source of all things for us, and provide all that we need and more.
As a Christian, we all face many trials, challenges and pitfalls which may cause us to stumble and fall. You may be going through some challenges right now where you really need God’s help and intervention. Have you asked Him for help and advise? Perhaps you are trying to resolve things on your own, or you feel you are responsible to fix the situation first, before God should get involved? True humility starts with admitting we need help. Where do we go from here?
“Then Jesus said: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light”. Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus, our Servant-King, set the example how to lead a life in humility and gentleness, serving others before ourselves. He never displayed pride or arrogance, but always spoke the truth in love and gentleness. He is inviting you today to come to Him, and learn from Him. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Lord, help me to be more like You in my dealings with others, the way I speak, the way I behave. Take away any pride that hinders and help me to walk humbly with you and with others. Amen.