Of Horses and Humility
Have you ever ridden with someone who had a jigging, prancing, full-of-itself horse, who thought their mount’s behavior made it beautiful and spirited? Perhaps you’ve somehow come into possession of such an animal yourself. Up on its toes, shaking its head, vying to be out front, constantly calling attention to itself. I’ve known folks who ride any horse they own in such a manner that it is eventually trained to act this way. Yet these kinds of antics are anything but useful. In truth, they’re at best annoying, and at worst, dangerous. Both the animal, and its rider, waste a lot of energy to no good purpose. Some poor, vulnerable souls may be influenced by this, at least for a season. Wiser, more experienced horse people are likely to choose a different kind of riding companion.
On the whole, I’ve discovered that the safest, most useful horses are those whose behavior causes them to blend in with the crowd. They don’t always have to be out in front, don’t mind being ridden in the drag position–are pretty much happy wherever you choose to ride them. While they exhibit plenty of energy and speed when asked for it, they are also content to walk along quietly while the rider enjoys the scenery, or visits with a friend. These horses don’t feel they need to balk, dance, or to take a big leaping jump over every mud puddle or other obstacle they come across, but carefully walk through, around, over, or under whatever comes their way. While such mannerly horses may possess physical beauty and spirit. . .a certain ‘charisma,’ if you will. . .they don’t gain attention by acting in such a manner as to draw it to themselves.Admiration is bestowed as a natural response to their wonderful manners and beautiful way of going.
The nicest thing about such a horse is that it doesn’t have ‘a mind of its own,’ but looks continually to its master to discover how to respond to each circumstance. I find it humorous when people on less tractable, obedient animals indulge in a kind of bragging over their horse’s behavior, as though simply being able to stay on top of such a creature is a commendable feat. It makes them feel like real horsemen.
Haven’t you also known people of faith who are the counterpoints to these types of horses and their riders? I have. Everything they do seems imbued with excess energy and enthusiasm. They seem to think that ‘animation’ equals ‘anointing.’ They draw attention to their works, their ministry, their following, while telling anyone who will listen the best way to live their lives, and please God. Their actions continually say, “Look at me, I’ve got the answers!” In today’s world, where ‘bigger’ is supposed to equate with ‘better,’ many such ministries flourish–at least after the fashion of the world.
Their counterpoint is the man or woman of faith who is simply there when you need them to be. They act with integrity, whether anyone is looking or not. They face challenges quietly, and with seemingly great courage. Though they may experience fear on the inside–who doesn’t, from time to time?–they trust that if their Master has asked them to navigate troubled waters, then He will see them through. If situated in a public forum or seat of honor, they’re concern is not toward building an image or following for themselves. They concern themselves with others, and seek to honor the Lord–whom they quietly look to for guidance. If they are in places of leadership, they prefer to lead by example, rather than by rule. Without consciously drawing anyone’s attention to themselves, other people nevertheless admire and desire to emulate their behavior.
Humble obedience possesses a beauty all its own.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind.
Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?