SPEAK MODESTLY

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 eleventh step of humility is that a monk speaks gently, with modesty, briefly and reasonably without raising their voice.  ~ The Rule of Benedict

Speak concisely, say much in few words; be one who knows and yet holds their tongue. ~ Sirach 32:8

 

Healthy communication within a community is vital. Benedict thought it was so important that he devoted three of his 12 Steps of Humility  to communication.

In Humility Step 9 Benedict advises us to actually listen more than we speak. Step 10 cautions us against making jokes at the expense of others feelings.

Now in Humility Step 11 Benedict describes the appropriate way that we should converse with others. We are to be generous and sincere in our listening. And when it’s our time to speak we are to brief and gentle with our words, not loud or boisterous.

This is definitely unlike our modern culture where people are blasting out opinions while ignoring anything that goes against their thoughts.  Certainly not the kind of behavior that can build community. Rarely do we see actual conversation that allows both sides to gently share their views while listening kindly in return.

Participation in a community requires that we speak and also that we listen. In speech we must be candid, in listening we must be accessible. ~John McQuiston II

The one thing I find most appealing about Saint Benedict and his 12 Steps of Humility is that they are practical for use in any environment. They are timeless tools for running the home, office or a community of any size.

While speaking modestly comes naturally to some, it’s often more common among those who have gained some wisdom with years of life behind them. Elders are are usually more sparing with words than young people.

We can’t expect the youth to come by this virtue so quickly, but by walking in Benedict’s example we can help them put these lessons into practice.

Enjoy this sweet song sung by Casting Crowns helping us have a humble heart of praise that God will listen to.

AVOID IDLE LAUGHTER

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 tenth step of humility is that a monk is not quick to laughter.  ~ The Rule of Benedict

A fool raises their voice when they laugh. ~ Sirach 21:20

 

As Christian believers and Christ followers we should be cultivating an atmosphere where all people can feel safe. Much of today’s culture, media and entertainment is harsh and brutal, even bullying, when it comes to humor. Television and movies use sarcasm and vulgarity dressed up as humor that bring harm to various groups of people.

Words that harm others are not humorous.

Humor is about seeing the lighter side of life. It should be used to lift us up out of troubles and weaknesses, not beat us down into them.

Hiding behind hurtful words, the prideful will use negative words to lash out at others while trying to avoid their own internal pain. These arrogant vulgar jokes somehow make them feel better about themselves when they tear others down.

Saint Benedict taught his community of monks not to be quick or loud in their laughter. Step 10 of Humility invites us to take our humor seriously. We must guard our laughter, taking care not to use it in hurtful ways. When someone falls down or has taken a turn for the worse in their life, we mustn’t make light of or laugh at their troubles.

We mustn’t delight in or find humor in the pain of others.

Just like it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, so too our kindness toward others can lead them to God. Let’s cultivate an atmosphere around us that invites others to Christ with our words and behavior.

Contemplate the kindness and love of God in your life with this beautiful song by Chris Tomlin.

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.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

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 seventh step of humility is that we admit with our tongue and are convinced in our heart that we are of less value than others. ~ The Rule of Benedict

If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:30 

 

Benedict’s Rule goes against our grain and most everything we’re taught today. In today’s terminology the seventh step of humility is asking us to make room for personal growth.

This radical self-examination, seeing ourselves as inferior to others, is not to be done in a self-deprecating or undervalued way. However, we are to humbly consider ourself lower than others in the hopes of lifting them and ourselves up to God.

In recognizing our personal limitations we find the first secret to victory. If we can humble ourselves and admit our human weaknesses, see our need for help from God and others, we’re on the right path. Scripture teaches us, God’s power works best through those who know their limitations and who turn their weaknesses over to Him. Those who pridefully think they can do everything on their own strength are in great danger.

Knowing that God’s power shows up when we recognize our weaknesses should give us hope and courage. As we depend more on God for our energy and effectiveness we’ll not only develop stronger Christian character but we’ll deepen our faith and bring God glory to those around us.

As we examine ourselves in comparison to others it may be easy to put ourselves down. However, if we humbly take a balanced look at both our strengths and weaknesses, we can prayerfully put them in God’s loving hands. Then in His perfect timing, with His unlimited power, God will give us what we need to overcome our limitations.

When we give God our limitations, He makes us limitless in His love!

Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (TPT)

Contemplate the limitless love of God with this fantastic song by Colton Dixon.

 

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!

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.