I know how the song goes, "What the world needs now is LOVE, sweet love!" Yes, Dionne Warwick could melt your heart with her raspy voice when she sang it; the problem is, it's not that simple. There is something people desperately need prior to acquiring love - - because without this something, they will never adopt the right type of love. There are many types of love, and the most common understanding of "love" in the world is self-centered, Eros love. "I love something because of the way it makes me feel - and I deserve that something." This is not what the world needs; in fact, this kind of love is what causes heart-ache in families and marriages... because over time Eros fades and quits.
So what trait do I need before I adopt the right kind of self-less, God honoring love? Honestly, you will not like my answer because this trait is next to impossible to promote, market or sell. Few people own it or want it, because to the normal American, it has no "pizzazz!" But... if you were ever able to catch a glimpse of this quality in the rough-n-tumble of real life, it is like finding a rare gem: though it is small & easy to miss, it shines! And that gem is...
h u m i l i t y - t h e a b i l i t y t o s e e y o u r s e l f r i g h t l y
My dad had his office down in our moldy basement, it was not too impressive, nor expensive - - mostly constructed out of unfinished drywall, plywood sheets and tack-board hanging haphazardly around the room. His beat-up desk, which took up most of the space in the office, looked like Radar O'Reily's mash unit: expense reports and weekly appointments stacked high and scattered. But what stood out to me the most on this desk was a 1970's-ish statue of a goofy bald guy that read, "It Is Hard To Be Humble When You Are As Great As I Am." My dad loved that statue because he told me "pride" was his hardest obstacle to overcome.
And he really meant it.
So over the years he trained me in the art humility; and the number one lesson I learned from him was this axiom, "If you want to be liked, treat other people as an expert in their world." He practiced this all the time. Whenever anyone came over to our house, he would want to learn from them; he "genuinely" wanted to know new insights from their expertise. People were important to him, and it didn't matter if he was talking to a professional builder like my brother-in-law, or an amateur hopscotch playing neighbor - - my dad cared about people's opinion of their own unique world and experiences. And I must say, people loved him for it!
I tried to follow his example and I have found people really like you when you are like this: It is rare to find someone who actually listens to you, and when listening they want to learn from what you have to say. If you were ever to acquire this skill, you will find that it reaps tremendous benefits.
But it took me awhile to realize that this skill also has it's drawbacks, because...PEOPLE often LIE!
When you treat people as experts, some times they aren't. And if you are not that good at discerning their lies, you will may be buying "a load of horse manure." We call this trait being "gullible." As a kid I would treat most people as experts, and I can still remember some of the horse manure I was sold:
- My next door neighbor would always complain & moan about cutting the grass: "It is such hard work." So when my dad tried to get me to learn how to cut ours, I rebelled because I didn't want to be subjected to such harsh slavery. Over time I learned cutting grass was really a lot of fun and quite therapeutic for a weary mind.
- The High School Players told the Junior Highers that football became drudgery at the higher levels: "You will hate practice, you will do nothing but run, and you may even die during two-a-days!" So entering my freshman year I considered not joining the team... it was my mom who demanded that I play. And after my first two-a-day practice I secretly checked my vital signs, and I found out that "I was not dying." In fact, I didn't tell anybody for fear of maybe being seen as arrogant and wrong-headed, but I loved it!
- I worked with a guy that went to college before me and he told me that "Most people never make it through their first year and have to drop-out early." Boy did that affect me. I feared college like the plague. After my first year walking back to my dorm I dreaded opening my grades...I thought to myself, "I probably flunked because as my friend said, most people drop-out." To my surprise, all "A's" and one "B." I actually passed!
I will never forget the vivid moment I realized the human tendency to puff-reality-up. I went to a party with a friend at college and this party was "Boooring." All we did was play cards, sit on the porch and watch ESPN. Not too impressive. As we came back to our dorm around midnight someone asked how the party was and my friend said, "It was crazy man, you missed a wild time!" He was dead serious. And in my mind, he was lying.
Why do we do this?
Why do people lie? I think there are many reasons why we do, but for the most part I think we all want to be seen as better than we really are. So we tell lies about ourselves, we exaggerate our experiences, and over time we actually start to believe the lies we have spun. Pride causes me to think I am more impressive than I man, more important, more deserving. Somehow pride has me believing my experiences "really are" better than other peoples, the church I go to has more of God's Spirit, my jump shot is smoother, my selfie is prettier. It IS hard to be humble when you are as great as I am!
Last night I was awakened by a thunder-clap that shook our house. I looked outside and the lightning display lit up the sky. God's work is amazing, nature is powerful. I am so tiny! If I only had the guts to be honest: I am weak, needy and vulnerable.
When I admit that to others, cast aside my pride, submit myself to God....life works!
If the world was loaded full of people that didn't lie, worshiped God, and received his grace - - love would naturally result. You don't make the world better by self-willing love, you make it better by admitting your need for mercy and grace and love comes flowing out of you. In other words...
"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up!"