About that “Kick Me” Sign on Your BackBy Dave Harvey
June 23, 2020
In his Natural Questions, the Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Mirrors were discovered in order that man might come to know himself.” I’m not a big fan of mirrors because I often don’t like what I see. Have you noticed that most mirrors don’t show your whole body? Good or bad, we only see our front. We could be walking around for years with a giant “kick me” sign pasted on our back and never know it.
Paul clearly links our ability to act in humility with an awareness of our own interests; we’re just not to look only to our own interests. Elsewhere he instructs the believer not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to “think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3).
So according to Paul, the problem for Christians isn’t self-awareness; rather, it’s the wrong kind of self-awareness. The key is a self-awareness based in humility—seeing ourselves with both faith and sober judgment, then living as if others are more significant than we are.
I’m guessing you don’t have a sign on your back. But there are probably some things about you that your friends are aware of but you’re not. God has designed us so that we need each other to get a complete picture.
We don’t learn wisdom in a book or on a mountaintop. Without help from others, we’re often blind to what we do and why we do it. We learn wisdom in community. If we stand alone, we fall. That’s why humility looks for mirrors. The humble don’t just tolerate input; they seek it.
Do you know what I’ve found? Ambition and self-assessment are inextricably linked. The selfishly ambitious are terrible at self-arithmetic. When they “count themselves,” it’s always more than almost everybody else.
When I live in my house or my church as King Dave, I become blind to my faults and limits. This is why I desperately need the eyes and words of others to help me form a humble self-perception. And it’s why the next upcoming articles examine three critical areas of daily life that desperately need the “faithful wounds” (Proverbs 27:6) of our friends.
Do you have mirrors in your life? If not, get some. You won’t regret it. If you’re wondering how they help, the next article covers the first of three important ways they serve me.
This article was adapted from Dave’s book, Rescuing Ambition.