For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted

Home > Living the Gospel > For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted

There is a quote which is often attributed to Vince Lombardi, but it was actually UCLA coach, Red Sanders, who once said, “Winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” That philosophy has a great deal of value in the realm of sports. I doubt if any coach would remain head coach at a university for very long if he said to his players at the beginning of the season, “Guys, it’s OK with me if we end up 3-8 this year, I just want you guys to go out there and have fun!” In sports, being number one is important. It’s the driving force. The problem comes when we try to apply that philosophy to our daily lives. Being first is so important to some people that it becomes the only thing they will settle for. Nothing else is acceptable. Everything else is intolerable. But in Mark 9:35, Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” That doesn’t sound much like a winning formula, does it? You probably wouldn’t find it listed in the “Ten Most Important Habits of Successful People.”

Our culture says, “Go for first place!” Our Lord says, “Go for last.” Both of them are telling us how to get to the top, but the difference is the means by which we get there.

Sammy Morris was a Christian from Africa who came to the United States to go to school. The road he chose for himself was a tough one, but he never let it stop him from making progress. When he arrived at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, the school’s president asked him what room he wanted. Sammy said simply, “If there is a room nobody wants, give it to me.” Later the president commented, “I turned away with my eyes full of tears. I was asking myself whether I would be willing to take what nobody else wanted.”

Jesus said, “Take the lowest place;” the place that nobody wants. In today’s Gospel, the best seat in the house, according to Jesus, is the last seat.

An admirer once asked the famous orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein what was the most difficult instrument to play. He said, “Second fiddle.” He said, “I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said “Humility is the mother of all virtues.” So, head for the last seat in the house and let God move you up!

Sylvia Bates