Pride in Titles, Degrees, and Education? (Hutchinson)

 Christians struggle with pride just like people who are not Christians. We all know what pride looks like in real life.  It’s that man always talking about his acheivements, it’s that woman showing off how much and how far she jogs, it’s that guy on the team who think’s he’s #1.  The list goes on.  Christopher Hutchinson mentions that we can even become proud about our titles and degrees (MDiv, PhD, Dr., Rev., etc.).  I appreciate Hutchinsons’ comments on this topic:

Of course, it is possible for pastors to wear their academic strikes humbly, and for unlettered people to take a perverse pride in their lack of credentials. As a general rule, I think stripes and titles tend to feed pride and hinder humility, especially when unduly emphasized.

My current congregation is blessed to have many men and women with doctorates and amazing accomplishments. Yeah, we are even more blessed to have people from all walks of life and educational levels. When we gather to worship, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, period. No distinctions are made at all. The joy and the fellowship of being together as equals all saved by the same grace is tangible. That is the sort of thing a conscious focus on humility can do in the church. For we have one Father who is in heaven, and one teacher, our Lord Jesus. I am blessed to lead a congregation where one has to work to find out whether someone has a doctorate or not. In some cases, it was years before a brother or sister told me, and in every case I remember, it was only because I asked them. That is the kind of humility that bind the congregation together in Christian love. Are pastors not to be as Paul, preaching not with lofty words of wisdom, but rather to know nothing but Christ and him crucified?

Christopher Hutchinson, Rediscovering Humility, p.152.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

Humility and Distrusting the Heart (Hutchinson)

 I’m enjoying this book by Christopher Hutchinson called Rediscovering Humility.  It’s an engaging read that walks through the different dynamics of biblical humility in a gospel centered way.  I’ll write more about it later, but for now I wanted to share these helpful paragraphs:

I have often participated in religious or philosophical discussions with people who had made up their minds long before and without any real examination of the issues. They are sure they are right and cannot wait to tell anyone who will listen.  How often people say something like, ‘I think God is like this or that,’ without any consideration that they ought not to think anything about God unless He has first told them.  Wisdom reminds us, ‘A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion’ (Proverbs 18:2).  Fools would rather hear themselves talk than actually grow in knowledge and perhaps even change their minds.  In contrast, humility is ‘quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger’ (James 1:19)….

Americans have a strong tradition of rugged individualism that pushes against humility.  In ‘Self-Reliance,’ Ralph Waldo Emerson says, ‘to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.’  So what happens when my genius heart disagrees with yours?  That is exactly why Scripture warns against trusting one’s own heart, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9).  Humility teaches people to distrust their own hearts and judgment until wisdom has grown and been proved by an abundance of counselors.

What then are believers to do?  They are to distrust their own first instincts and listen to facts – the facts of the world around them, the facts of other people’s thoughts and opinions, and most of all, the facts found in God’s Word (cf. James 1:19, 22).  They are to heed the advice found in Proverbs, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding…’ (3:5-7).

Christopher Hutchinson, Rediscovering Humility (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2018), p. 50-51.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

(NOTE: I received a copy of this book to review and was not compelled to write a positive review.)