In 2002, I was a 23-year-old who just started a new job at a camp called the Master’s Inn. My main responsibility was to run the Counselor In Training (CIT) program where high schoolers spend two weeks doing all of the behind the scenes work at the camp. Around this same time, the first Fast and Furious movie came out, and every high school kid thought they were Dominic Torreto.
Word got out that I could do some cool driving tricks, so one day as I was driving a car full of students, they begin to chant, “Sean, do the e-brake slide!” This is where the driver comes into a turn fast, puts the clutch in neutral, and pulls up on the emergency brake creating a slide motion into a turn.
As a sensible 23-year-old adult, I thought to myself, “I cannot do this. I am responsible for the well-being and safety of these students.”
But as an irresponsible 23-year-old who wanted to look cool in front of a car full of 16-year-olds, I thought “I can do this!” I proceeded to pull into a gravel driveway and hit the e-brake slide, putting the car on two wheels before coming to rest, and all the kids got out of the car geeking out about how cool it was that I just nailed the e-brake slide like Dom. Meanwhile, I am thanking God that I did not just kill four students.
A few years later, I ran into one of the students who was in the car with me that day, and he said, “Sean you need to come see my new ride. It’s awesome! Well, it is not as awesome as my last one, but I totaled my last one trying to do the e-brake slide like you.” In that moment it hit me: I had one chance to influence this person because of the power given to me by my position, and I used it to further my kingdom and my popularity.
When I think about Jesus and how He used His power and influence, I realize I could not be less like Him. Here I am, just a man, and I am using my power for my own glory. Here He is, God’s Son, and He is using His power to save my life.
We see this in Philippians 2. It says in verse 6, “Jesus, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” Jesus was equal with God but did not use that to gain popularity or power.
Paul goes on to say in verse 7, “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” This doesn’t mean that in any way Jesus stopped being God, but rather that he chose to set that glory aside to take on the form of humanity. He chose humility and service over glory and power. Jesus, who had all the privileges that were rightly his as the king of the universe, gave them up to become an ordinary Jewish baby bound for the cross.
One of the reasons I know the Bible is true is that you and I would have never invented a humble God. In all of our mythology, the gods are all powerful and unconcerned with humanity! One of the most distinguishing features of the God of the Bible is humility. Jesus rightfully had a position of power, but his love for us drove him to a position of humility and service unlike any “god” in human history.
"Jesus rightfully had a position of power, but his love for us drove him to a position of humility and service..."
Verse 8 says that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross.” Here’s what Paul is saying: Jesus’ death on the cross was the most humiliating experience in history, and what he did was so opposite of human nature.
Human nature is proud. Pride is about me. It’s about what I want. It’s about what I need. It’s about what I think. It’s about what I deserve.
Humility is about God, and it’s about serving other people. Humility allows someone to be selfless though their natural inclination would be to remain selfish.
Pride is about my glory. “Do you know who I am? Do you know what I’ve done? Do you respect me?” These are all questions as God’s son that Jesus could have asked, but he chose humility.
I look back at my life at 39 years old and think, “how many opportunities did I miss to use my power to advance God’s kingdom because I was too concerned about advancing Sean’s kingdom?” That number, I am sad to say, is far too high.
So how do we live our lives more like Christ?
Put your pride aside and pursue a position of humility.
Use your influence to advance God’s kingdom and not your own.
Look for ways to serve other people as Jesus did. One way to do that at Brentwood is to join a serving team. For more information visit brentwoodchurch.org/serve.