Summary: Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking rightly about yourself. It's getting and keeping a "right-sized" image of yourself by having a "right-sized" image of God.
How may of you dream or have ever dreamed of becoming famous? I mean REALLY famous? Can't go anywhere without being recognized famous? Remembered and adored long after you're dead famous? Ah ... glad to see that I'm not the only one.
When I was in my twenties and thirties, I considered myself a rare jewel, a hidden literary talent just waiting to be discovered. I was going to the be next Faulkner or Hemingway or Melville. As time went on, however, it became more and more evident to me that I wasn't the great, undiscovered talent that I fancied myself to be ... no book on the best seller list. Of course, you actually have to write a book to get on the best seller list ... Duh!
I had a few articles and editorials published in local newspapers. I almost sold an editorial to Harper's Magazine once. They were actually considering publishing it and then, for whatever reason, changed their minds. That's it, folks. That's my literary climb to fame and fortune in a nutshell.
Do I have regrets?
None whatsoever! My life turned out a million times better than I could have ever imagined. Even though I am not famous, I have the best Boss ever and I take care of some of some of the best people in the world. Well ... some of the best people in West Palm Beach county, anyways.
You see, God has humbled me ... and continues to humble me ... in so many ways. Sometimes He humbles me real gentle. And other times ... well ... He has to get a bit rough to get my attention.
You see, my desire for fame and fortune comes from my desire to achieve some form of immortality ... only I didn't know it at the time. If only I could get published ... some articles ... some short stories ... some essays ... gasp! ... a book or two ... then people would know that I was here ... that I had existed at some point in time on this planet.
I remember standing on the second floor of the main library at the University of Florida. I was doing a research paper for one of my graduate courses, so I was in one of the pretty obscure parts of the library. As I went down the rows and shelves looking for a particular book, a thought occurred to me. If I had managed to get published, a book or books, they would have ended up here. Looking at all the names and titles on the book bindings, they reminded me of tombstones. "Here lies Smith, Rodger ... author of "The Development of Turquois Trade Among the Navajo From 1850 to 1900." Name after name after name of authors I never heard of. Row after row of books that might get read a half a dozen times over the next 50 or 100 years. I realized that I was standing in a paper cemetery of long-forgotten authors who, like me, wanted to leave some kind of imprint on the world ... leave some kind of proof that they once existed.
It's not my purpose to demean their work. I'm sure that many of them did what they did to add to the knowledge or the joy and pleasure of the world. But I realized that as a route to eternal fame and recognition ... like Chaucer and Shakespeare ... well .... My struggles to become a rock star in the literary world would have ended up ... if I were lucky enough to even get a book published ... on some library stack or bookshelf somewhere, read by a few thousand people perhaps ... if, as I said, I were lucky.
It's been estimated that between 69 and 110 billion people have lived on this planet since it began. Of that, less than .00004% of them have achieved the kind of immortality that I was seeking. The rest of us ... well, to quote the immortal bard, William Shakespeare: "Life's but a walking shadow. A poor player that struts and frets his hour on the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" ... echoing the words of another great writer and immortal personality, King Solomon. "The people of long ago are not remembered," he writes in Ecclesiastes, "nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them" (Ecc. 1:11). The people of long ago are not remembered ... and those who are to come will not be remembered by those who will come after them. Sounds, well, depressing and disheartening, doesn't it? But only if your goal is to be remembered forever.