RESTRAIN YOUR SPEECH

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The ninth step of humility is that a monk restrains their speech, not speaking until an answer is required. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10:19 (The Message)

 

1500 hundred years ago Benedict of Nursia wrote his rule for the small group of monks who resided with him about 80 miles south of Rome in a monastery called Monte Cassino. Quite unlike our modern life today, these monks lived extremely simple lives that revolved around worship, work and study.

In those days the monk’s primary focus was spending contemplative time with God while also performing their daily duties. But they had one challenge: other people were around all the time. So Benedict wrote these rules to manage their community life and all things that entailed.

This particular step of humility is usually directed at our need to be quiet and respectful around others. But it could just as easily be applied to our relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Like me, I’m sure when you’re trying to have a time of contemplation with God, there seems to always come an interruption of some sort… whether it’s the internal monkey-mind chattering away or a physical distraction that occurs.

“To listen closely, with every fiber of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.” ~ Esther de Waal

Like most people when we’re trying to communicate with someone, we expect them to have proper manners, to restrain their speech, give us their eyes and listen. God isn’t any different. He wants our undivided attention when He’s trying to speak to us. However, we rarely give Him the respect due Him… to stop rambling on about our needs and wants, close our mouth, be still and  listen.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle in this area. I’m often too quick to speak and too slow to listen when it comes to my conversations with others and especially in my devotional time with God.

Take a few moments to practice the art of contemplative listening to God with this great song by Chris McClarney below:

“I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Cause everything You say is life to me

I don’t wanna miss one word You speak

Quiet my heart, I’m listening…”  ~Chris McClarney

BE MOLDABLE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is recommended by the common rule of the monastery and the example of the elders. ~  The Rule of Benedict

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. ~ Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)

 

One of the most important principles Benedict tries to teach us on this humility path is that we should be willing to be taught by anyone of any age. Being teachable isn’t just a challenge for the young in our culture. Many of us in the older generation also struggle with being taught by others.

Having re-entered the corporate workforce in my sixth decade of life, I find most of the people in charge are the age of my adult children or even younger. This can be quite off-putting some days.

A good measure of our moldable-ness is how we accept correction.

 

To be honest, when I first took this job in 2016 it was quite difficult to be supervised by a woman who was younger than my daughter. It proved my own lack of humility. Here I was writing a book on humility and struggling with it almost on a daily basis.

God has a weird sense of humor some days. He likes to put me directly in the lesson that needs to be learned not through a book but in the trenches of life!

 

For most of us our community isn’t a monastery with an abbess who leads us. My work community is a financial institution with managers and customers. Our life communities: cities, states and countries have managers and citizens. In each of these communities there are people who lead and those who need to follow the leaders.

God gives us leaders for a reason. They are His authority representatives and we are to see them as such. When we lose sight of this value our work places and communities will break down. I believe we’re experiencing this more than ever in our culture today.

Being moldable and teachable isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of strength, faith and trust. The challenge is to make sure the person who is molding us is following God’s direction and Biblical values.

The best place to start is to totally surrender myself to God so that He can make me what He wants me to be. As I do, my heart will be more open to the directions that come from and through the authority figures in my daily life.

Take a few minutes to contemplate how moldable your heart is as you enjoy this beautiful worship video by Hillsong United.

CONTENTMENT

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The sixth step of humility is that we are content with the lowest and most menial treatment. ~ The Rule of Benedict.

“I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” ~ Philippians 4:12-13

Benedict isn’t approving poor treatment. 

Like much of the Gospel things are backwards in God’s Kingdom compared to what the world would teach. At first glance Saint Benedict seems to be asking us to put ourselves below others in a negative way. It’s true we’re supposed to let others go before us out of respect but not with a self-deprecating manner or attitude. In humility we let go of the part of ourselves that we think is so important; we put others first and become willing to do menial tasks. Then we are able to let God honor us not look for it from people.

Accept life circumstances as they come.

Saint Benedict asks us to follow Christ and what the Apostle Paul teaches us in the Scripture quoted above. We can’t think we are above anyone or any situation in life. We must find peace in the struggle, with God and with ourselves. As we trust God to strengthen us, we can face whatever circumstance comes our way.

Outward situations can’t dictate our happiness.

A humble heart is fixed on God so much that the changing external circumstances of life don’t affect our mood. Our realities don’t dominate our state of mind or spirit. We submit our desires to God’s will in our life for today knowing He has good planned to come from it all.

Humility steps lightly in peace.

“Humility steps lightly, not intent on having the now be more… Humility enables us to see that the present holds riches for us that we have not seen before because our eyes were focused beyond the present moment.” ~ Joan Chittister.

Humility finds contentment in God’s love.

God doesn’t want us to strive for the things of this world. Neither does He want us to strive for His love. We don’t have to do anything for it. God has freely given us His love. He wants us to freely receive what He has already given us. All we have to do is come to God and let Him have all of our heart.

Find contentment. Stop striving. Receive His love today!

Soak in the contentment of God’s love as you listen to this incredibly beautiful worship song by Rita Springer.

RADICAL SELF-HONESTY

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The fifth step of humility is that we do not conceal from our spiritual advisor any sinful thoughts entering our hearts, or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16

 

We are not designed to carry our heavy emotional burdens alone. Whether it’s concerning past mistakes or current struggles; we need to share our burdens with another person.

God put us in a community of like minded people who can help us. Our challenge is to be radically honest with ourselves and recognize when we need to reach out to a trusted friend or counselor.

Sometimes we shy from confessing our problems to others.  We think that if we open up to another person and they see the “real me” that they won’t like us any more. If we have carefully chosen a trusted friend, counselor or minister we can be sure they will use godly love and wisdom to help us.

Often answers and even healing comes as we are sharing. I’ve found on more than one occasion that as I was sharing my problem with someone the needed answer quickened to my spirit and after the session ended I felt physically lightened of that burden.

Saint Benedict knew the path to humility requires pure honesty. Humility calls us to truthfully bring to light whatever is hidden deep in our heart. These may be things that we’re even in denial to ourselves about. This is where a Christian counselor or minister can help. They can talk, pray and work us through these challenging areas to bring about the needed healing and restoration.

If you are struggling with any serious burdens or emotional wounds don’t hesitate to reach out to your local church or Christian counseling center.

Take a few moments to contemplate issues you may need to work through with a trusted friend or counselor as you listen to this beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli.

QUIETLY EMBRACE PATIENCE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The fourth step of humility is that in obedience, under difficult, unfavorable or even unjust condition, our hearts quietly embrace suffering and endure it without weakening or seeking escape. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Be brave of heart and rely on God. ~ Psalm 27:14

Obedience often brings pain.

Last month in Humility Step Three we learned about obedience. Saint Benedict wants us to submit to our authority figures for the love of God imitating Christ who became obedient even to death. In other words, there are times our obedience may bring difficult or painful circumstances, that may be hard but yet they are in our best interest.

Be faithful to the end and you will experience life and deliverance. ~ Matthew 10:22 (TPT)

Living a pain-free life.

Benedict links obedience with patience. Something not taught much today. When facing difficult situations most of us don’t embrace the suffering quietly  or without weakening. The minute there is any sort of stress we’re seeking an escape. Our escapes come in many forms: food, sex, drugs, alcohol, work, social media, shopping, gambling… Anything that can take our mind off our troubles can serve as an escape.

Persevere to the end.

By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls. ~ Luke 21:19 (TPT)

Scripture tells us there will be challenges and struggles. But Jesus encourages us no matter what we’re experiencing, if we will endure, if we are faithful to the end, we will experience deliverance in this lifetime and certainly in the next.

Quietly embrace patience in your life situation as you enjoy this beautiful song by Kari Jobe.

OBEDIENCE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

This Third Step of Humility is a direct application of our previous Second Step:  Step Three involves setting aside our personal desires to imitate Christ in doing God’s will. Father Benedict puts it this way:

Submit to your superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord of whom the Apostle Paul says: He became obedient even to death (Philippians 2:8).  ~ Rule of Benedict 7:34

An obedient, submissive heart increases our openness to receiving directions for our daily life. This applies to our relationships with a supervisor, teacher or parent. But before we can express our obedience by complying with a command, we must first listen. Most importantly we must listen to our Heavenly Father who will in turn help us obey our earthly authorities.

In humility we must promptly and cheerfully obey with no grumbling or reluctance. These humble attempts to live according to God’s will prepares our soul not only to walk with God today, but for eternity as well.

With this amazing new song by Lindy and The Circuit Riders let’s contemplate how we can honor God with our yes… by our obedience!

TURN FROM WILLFULNESS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The second step of humility is that we love not our own will nor take pleasure in the satisfaction of our own desires.  ~ (Rule of Benedict 7:31)

I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent me. ~ John 6:38

Jesus is our perfect example for life.

When He walked the earth, Jesus’ disciples saw him perform many miracles. But amazingly they didn’t ask him to teach them how to heal people or raise the dead. The disciples only asked Jesus how to pray. In this model prayer, Jesus taught them to ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is our starting point.

We can’t accept God’s will until our heart’s ready for it.

It will be impossible for us to turn from our self-will and embrace God’s will if we are completely immersed in our own view of reality. This means examining our heart’s desires. What’s at the root? What is the motivation? Why? Maybe it’s from past abuse or poor parenting. As we read God’s Word and pray the Holy Spirit will transform our mind. Gradually our heart will softens in humility and become able to follow God’s will.

One with the Father.

Our life is to be modeled after Jesus. He did nothing and spoke nothing that wasn’t from his Father in Heaven. This is where our heart and mind need to be: one with our Father’s will. To think like Jesus thought. That will come as we continue to stay in God’s Word and in His Presence. Only then can we hope to turn from the stubborn willfulness that plagues our humanity and live God’s best life.

Contemplate trusting God’s will for your life as you listen to this sweet song from Hillsong Young and Free.

RECOGNIZE GOD’S PRESENCE

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we are climbing Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The first Step of Humility: a  monk keeps the fear of God always before their eyes.  ~ The Rule of Benedict 7:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Proverbs 1:7

As we begin our journey we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives and live from that awareness moment by moment.

Have an honoring, reverential fear of the Lord. To walk in humility we must live from a stance of reverential fear of God always. Not fear in the sense that we are afraid. But fear in the sense that we have a deep abiding respect for God’s authority in our life.

Keep self-worth in a proper perspective. By not putting ourselves down for our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up because of our strengths we can better see ourselves as God does. When we can have a balanced view of our flaws and gifts we come closer to the reality of who we are.

A foundational step for all the rest to come. Starting with a firm foundation of reverential fear of God will help the future step to be a little easier. As we recognize God’s Presence and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe.

God is always present in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, God is always present. He is present to our every thought and every action. It’s not hard to imagine God with us when we are being good. But to think of Him being present when we are doing something bad is uncomfortable.

Guard yourself at every hour. If we stay aware of God’s Presence moment by moment following the Holy Spirit’s lead we are promised to be blessed.

Take a few moments to contemplate the Presence of God in your life as you watch/listen to this beautiful worship song by Jenn Johnson.

Image Copyright ©2019 Reaching Hurting Women Ministries. 

The 12 Steps of Humility :: LISTEN MORE THAN TALK

IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 
 

THE NINTH STEP OF HUMILITY: A monk restrains [her] speech, not speaking until an answer is required.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10-19 (MSG)

 






In a culture big on watching most of us don’t really know how to listen. Do you find yourself listening to friends or loved ones with virtually no eye contact or verbal responses while surfing email or social media on your smartphone? 

Turn listening into a living response rather than a cerebral activity. That means we may have to listen when we don’t want to. If we pick and choose we may miss an important message God is trying to bring us. Besides that, it all comes back to honoring Christ in the other. It’s basic Golden Rule behavior really.

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.*


Benedictine spirituality calls us to listen to four things:

  • The Gospels.
  • The Rule.
  • Each other.
  • Life around us.


We won’t hear God through any of these unless we stop talking, typing or texting!

If we want to grow in grace, we must learn to talk less and listen more.** 

 
RESOURCES:
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm**

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal*
 

Image credit: tuk69tuk / 123RF Stock Photo

09.03.14

Consequences

 

Death’s station is at the entrance of pleasure. ~ The Rule of Benedict

It may sound radical to say that pleasures lead to death. But think about it. What are your favorite guilty pleasures? Food? Sex? Alcohol? Sleeping? Shopping?

Is it possible, that if you continued in your pleasurable habit unrestrained, that a death could be a result? Remember, the death we are talking about here isn’t always a physical death. But it could be.

In the quote above, Saint Benedict reminds us that all pleasure has consequences. Some are emotional, some are physical, some are spiritual and most are a combination of all three. We would do well to look ahead and consider the potential consequences of this particular pleasure we are about to indulge ourselves in. Sin is fun for a season but when the season ends there will be a bill to pay. What will you be paying with? Health problems, high debt, relationship issues… Is the cost worth it?

There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

 

Image credit: dizanna / 123RF Stock Photo