The third step of humility is that we submit to another person in obedience for the love of God, imitating Christ who became obedient even unto death.
My co-teacher’s ninth grade son asked her repeatedly over several days to come to his Friday evening basketball game in Hugo, about 45 miles away. Naomi gets off work late in the afternoon and she had many lessons to prepare for the next week. She knew her husband would be able to go and bring the younger boys. Thinking of the distance, the cold, the traffic, and the late hour, she tried to let him down gently. It would be nice to have a few hours of quiet and peace in an empty house after a long week. Yet the morning of the game, her son asked her again. Something tugged at her heart, and she decided to go. Naomi thought it was guilt. I think it was humility, obedience, and love.
Giving up our own will can sometimes be an invitation to consider and prioritize the needs of the other person and to act out of love. It’s not easy to give up our own will for that of another person. But doing so can help us to appreciate our own limitations and respect the gifts and wisdom of another person. Sometimes others have better ideas or a better understanding of the situation that we do.
Laying aside one’s own will for another is a small way of laying down one’s life down for another. By dying to ourselves and to our own will, we come to live more fully in Christ. Obedience is incarnational. We act in faith in following and responding to what is asked of us, even when we can’t see the sense in it, even when it is hard. In faith, we trust that God is working through the situation and through our heart, helping us to become more like Christ each time we let go of our own will. But, oh, how difficult it is!
Even Benedict had to learn to give up his own will for that of another person, his sister Scholastica. Late one night, she asked him to stay with her and continue talking about the glories of God all through the night. Benedict refused her request, but then God sent a thunderstorm, and Benedict was effectively stranded until the next morning.
He had no choice but to give up his own will for his sister. Scholastica loved more, and she was attentive to God’s will for them at that moment. Benedict listened to his sister Scholastica and bent his will for her that rainy evening, just as Naomi listened to her son and made a space for him by coming to his basketball game.
Sometimes humility looks like hospitality and being present to the other person. Sometimes when we listen and respond to another person, giving up our own will, we find the will for God in our lives and in the moment.
Invitation: Think about and be grateful for the people who help you follow God’s will for your life and to help you become the person God is calling you to be.