“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory (selfish ambition or conceit); but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”Philippians 2:3-4
Those of us who live in America are quite familiar with our rights. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and in the Constitution, it lays out the rights we have as American citizens. I love to watch the show “COPS”, and oftentimes you will hear people quote their rights to the officers as they are getting arrested. The police officers have to be mini lawyers as they must know the laws and apply them in any given situation. They must operate within the law and ensure no rights are violated, so their case will stand up in court if it goes to trial. I have familiarized myself with some of these rights, and I see some rights we hold dear being attacked and some seeking to change them. We surrender these rights from time to time when we fly or have to go to a stadium or courtroom. Although we are willing to surrender these at times, I don’t know anyone who would want to give these up permanently. Sometimes, we think we have rights that extend beyond our Constitution, and we would consider these “personal rights”.
We apply these personal rights at the workplace, the church, and even amongst our families. We demand a certain level of respect, and we have lines in our minds that people better not cross if they know what is good for them. We want be spoken to in a certain way and we are easily offended at times. We carry our feelings on our shoulder, and we tell anyone who will listen how we have been wronged. We can always find someone who will take our side against another, especially in times when we have been wronged. I am sure all of us have been wronged by a co-worker, family member or a church member. I am sure we have also been on the offending side as well.
I recently attended a meeting in which upper management screened one of my employees’ call. I was given a two-day heads up and they told me to find a call in which my employee had set up a method of inspection for a vehicle. I found one that I felt was good, and I had it cued to the park when they discussed getting the car set up to go to the shop. The day came and they started to play the call from the beginning and not from the point I had it cued. This might have been ok, but I had not really listened to the whole call. There were some delays and glaring mistakes I had missed. I wanted to crawl in a hole but they continued the call, and I could see the awkward facial expressions from those in the meeting. I thought it was a great call until I realized all of the mistakes that were made, and I knew I would get a tongue lashing once the recorded call ended.
Mercifully it ended and the grilling began. Upper management started with the good which I was able to speak to, and then they asked me about what I thought needed improvement. I sat silently for a minute until some thought it best to interrupt my silence and tell me all the things that went wrong. This went well past an hour. I felt like I was on trial, and I became a little upset as people got personal in a way and then expressed it was just to help me in the future. My face was red which is hard to see on my dark brown skin, but I could feel the heat emitting from it. I did not like being spoken to this, but I thought it best to keep my mouth shut and take notes of the suggestions they were making. In my mind I was thinking they could find a better way to express to me their critique, and I was not too happy with how they were speaking to me. I wanted to defend myself and my employee, but I knew this was not the time for such things. A fellow peer was in the meeting and sent me a message expressing how bad she felt for me.
I knew I was not going to be able to fight the law and win, but I also knew there were things I needed to work on. I heard later from my direct boss who said I took feedback well, and he thought they could do better in our management training process. I was glad that I did not lash out and demand my rights as it would not have gone well. I wish I shut my mouth in other cases when I was offended because I thought I was mistreated or treated unfairly. I have caused many a division at work, at home, and at church because I was not willing to esteem another better than myself. I was not willing to surrender my rights to another, and I demanded my rights at the expense of someone else. Pride welled up inside of me instead of humility. God has taught me much in this area, but there is still much work to be done as I continue to battle the pride in my life.
Where are you friend? Do you demand your rights at every turn? Do you esteem others better than yourself? Are you willing to surrender your rights or are you known as a hothead who is always selfish and looking for drama? Jesus Christ surrendered His rights to come in the form of a man and said nothing when He was spit on and His beard was plucked out. He loved and died for those who mistreated Him. He was the perfect example of humility and we are commanded to follow His lead. May we remain humble as we follow our Lord, and may we live peaceably with all men.