Seeking Humility with Superiority

This is the 3rd in the series we are going to be walking through on humility and purpose in God. If you haven’t read the other 2 yet, you might want to skip back and do so, as this one takes off in the middle.

We spoke last week about how difficult it is to be humble, as the vast majority of us have elevated perceptions of our own excellence in a number of different subjects, or experiences. With so few exceptions that we must pause and rethink our opinion of ourselves; it is going to require some work, and a genuine effort at re-programming. That means choosing to assault our own habits of thought by vigorously pursuing gratitude to God, but also taking the axe to our own egos and putting up speed bumps. That is what we’ll talk about today. Our egos actually get in the way of us doing the best job or relating to others in the best way possible. Confidence (sureness and optimism, but with correctability) – yes, but arrogance is an unyielding and unreasonable attitude of superiority that tends against correction, and toward control, or steam-rolling others.

Instead of just accepting that we don’t know where our knowledge stops and our egos take over, we must take up the sword of truth, AND – ask others to do so as well on our behalf, paying close attention to our past mistakes, and seeing our own failures as well as the failure of others, as new starting points with a lesson learned, instead of just bad endings.

Last week we talked about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how “Illusory Superiority” has us in its grip, whether we realize it or not, and, in fact, most often we do not realize it. Professor Dunning has also spoken on ways that we can pursue the “unknown unknowns,” and cut down how often we walk on others (or just look stupid) because of our own elevated self-perceptions.

Let’s look at several ways Professor Dunning advises to cut back on “Illusory Superiority” and its effects. They aren’t difficult. They just need our desire, and motion.

  • Seek Humble Mentors: because of their experiences, they know some of the unknowns, and as they get to know you, could help you identify them. Spend time together, and give them full license to speak – then, engage your listening skills whole heartedly. Stay humble and there will be victory in loving confrontation.
  • Beware of New Situations: steep yourself in books, videos, and sound advice. Move way more carefully than you normally would, just because you know there are lots of unknowns. Say out loud “I don’t have a lot of experience, here.”
  • Establish Buffers: put safety features out there to slow you down in situations where you don’t have a lot of experience. Mentors can help here too, but it is a general rule, like leaving earlier than you think you should when the roads are icy or you’ve never driven there before, or you don’t know the situation you’re walking into. Before moving, seriously ask yourself “how certain am I really?” There are few situations that require immediate movement…take some time. Don’t move too quickly, and don’t judge too quickly. For example, loving parents are keenly aware of whether someone you like could be good for you in the long run, but people tend to shy away from a parent’s advice and pay the price later.

Engaging these things as a practice will help you discern what you know and what you don’t know. They can’t eradicate mistakes, but they will lessen them, and could soften their effects.

In scripture, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark ring loudly of these principals. In Acts chapter 13, this group of cousins and ministers heads out together. Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement,” had been the one to bring Paul into mainstream ministry in Acts 9:27 when all the disciples were afraid of him because of his past murderous moves against the new church. He walked Paul into a meeting with the apostles themselves, and stood up for him, using specific facts and circumstances to prove that Paul was no longer the “Saul” they had known. Barnabas spoke into Paul’s life, and for his ministry, with love and conviction, having watched Paul persevere through some really harsh things already on behalf of their Lord, as no man perpetrating a ruse would.  He assured them that “Saul was no more, and that Paul could be trusted, and the apostles accepted Barnabas’ word. The Christians went from rejecting Paul to embracing him, and even hiding him from persecution, based on Barnabas’ interference, and then Paul’s own behavior. Paul is always known as a deeply convicted soul who stood for what he believed was right…but he was not always right.

In Acts 13:13, amidst the travel and active ministry, John Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem, where his family resided. The circumstances around this leaving are not given, but it is clear that Paul was really upset by Mark’s withdrawal. When Barnabas spoke up for Mark, as he had done for Paul earlier, Paul refused to allow Mark back into the work, and there was such a fight that Paul and Barnabas went out separately, and Barnabas took Mark with him. Barnabas gave Mark a second chance; he was humble toward Mark and whatever caused his failure. The confidence Barnabas placed in Mark allowed Mark time to grow into a confident minister of God’s Word. If Paul had been heeded, who knows where Mark would have ended up in his faith walk. Mark, for his part, became a humble minister of our Lord, and the first Bishop of Alexandria. Yes, this is the Mark that wrote one of the gospels. And, yes, this is the Mark who died for his faith.

“When Mark returned to Alexandria, the idolators of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.” (

This type of death was shared by one of Paul’s disciples, Timothy, in Ephesus, for the same reasons. Did Mark have trouble knowing Jesus’ fate, and seeing the hatred held toward the apostles as they went out? I wonder.

When Mark failed on that first journey, Paul saw it as an impasse and turned him away when he tried to repent and return. Barnabas lacked the Illusory Superiority that was blinding Paul in this situation (in my opinion), and did for Mark what he had done for Paul earlier. Mark responded and grew into the minister who wrote one of the gospels and died for his faith in Alexandria.  Barnabas was a humble mentor and saw the problems with putting a new person in a new situation without grace. He didn’t force Mark to come back but accepted him when he did. What did they do to assure Mark would succeed in the future? Scripture doesn’t say, but Mark did flourish and succeed, in the end, when he was tested with his life.

Later as Paul is in prison and dying, and beckons Timothy to come to him, he asks for Mark, and compliments Mark as well. It took Paul time, but his understanding of his own superiority, through study and hardships, was broken, and he loved Mark, saw him as useful in ministry, and called for him personally.

2 Ti 4:6-7  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. NKJV

2 Ti 4:11-12  Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. NKJV

Watching Paul graduate through hardships and thank those who he openly calls out as having spoken into his life, I believe there is hope for me, you, and absolutely everybody else, to shake off our delusions of excellence, embrace our short comings or weaknesses, and to flourish in whatever God has for us to do.

There’s a saying – God equips the called, He doesn’t call the equipped. Let’s answer Holy Spirit’s calls on our lives without thinking ourselves “perfected,” but rather “graced.” It makes us a better canvas for a more beautiful painting.

That huge portion of grace in our lives gives us peace to move when called or challenges us if we don’t feel peace when we’re called. God help us to be more like Barnabas!

Leaona Huston
December 16, 2021

A Time to Weep

In the midst of the lack of God’s Perfect Will, on earth, as in heaven, there must be weeping. It is only given to God to store our tears “in a bottle.”.

Ps 56:8

You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.  NLT

We here, now, must not store our tears. Tears stored become idols, and a terrible influence in our lives. There are times we should, even must, weep – tears are purposed to release real pain and agony, or overflowing gratefulness, or joy. Holding them in denies the very wrongness or rightness of a situation, and can harm us. Certainly, if God would have something wept over, and we refuse, then God’s Will in that moment has been thwarted. Sure, there is also a time to act, to celebrate, to be strong in other ways that this writing is not about. Those are also expressions of the experience of what is bad, or very good. But weeping, often seen as weakness to be over-powered or ignored disdainfully, has a specific place in God’s Kingdom and must be accomplished. And when accomplished, we can wait until the needed tears are properly spent, without discomfort or embarrassment, without apologies, and with the understanding that God’s purposes within that soul; and for that occasion, are being achieved on earth.

Jn 11:33-36 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” NKJV

Matthew Henry’s Commentary: John 11:33-44 (1.) …[1.] Jesus Christ was really and truly man, and partook with the children, not only of flesh and blood, but of a human soul, susceptible of the impressions of joy, and grief, and other affections. Christ gave this proof of his humanity, in both senses of the word; that, as a man, he could weep, and, as a merciful man, he would weep, before he gave this proof of his divinity. [2.] That he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, as was foretold, Isa 53:3. We never read that he laughed, but more than once we have him in tears. Thus he shows not only that a mournful state will consist with the love of God, but that those who sow to the Spirit must sow in tears. [3.] Tears of compassion well become Christians, and make them most to resemble Christ. It is a relief to those who are in sorrow to have their friends sympathize with them, especially such a friend as their Lord Jesus.

As you read scripture, really see what joy and suffering looked like. Many times God’s main characters wept: Joseph at the point of being revealed to his brothers; Jesus in the garden where He prayed; Paul over his flocks; Mary just a moment before discovering the empty tomb! Jesus didn’t apologize for His tears, nor did His disciples in their writings. As we weep, we acknowledge the earth’s frustrations.  As we struggle with our own sin nature, the sin nature of others, and the suffering and death that mortality affords, we look forward to the time when heaven takes its place with us here again in full permanence and glory…when we will weep no more, and always.

Rv 21:3-5 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, (and be) their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.  And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true. ASV

Until then, for the good of the soul, in expression of the emotions we have been given by God, we must weep, and we must humbly comfort the weeper, without apology, or shame.

Ecc 3:1 & 4 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…ASV.

Blessings! Leaona Huston June 19, 2021

Headship in 1 Cor. 11

I (Mike Huston) met Pastor Mary Todd in the Spring of 2016, but at the time I didn’t agree with the idea of women pastors, it just wasn’t in my vocabulary. However, I was impressed with her passion for the Word, and her preaching was spot on. With other factors in play, I was already exploring the scriptures to see if what I believed matched what the bible had to say on the subject. To me, that was very important, as I believed in the Bible as the word of God, and needed to align with scripture, even if I was found to be in the wrong.

Since then, I have come to a better understanding of women in leadership, and what the Bible has to say on the subject. Today, it now makes sense that when a woman has the faith, and has the calling from God to preach, she has an obligation to exercise that gift, just as any man would and has. I know that Mary has faced many obstacles in her obedience to that calling, but she has remained faithful to God and the Word.

I would like to share with you what I learned about one of the key verses (1 Corinthians 11:3) that have been used to suppress women from becoming an elder, or a pastor, and a long list of other restrictions too numerous to count.

First Corinthians was written by Paul the Apostle about 55 A.D, while he was finishing up his three year stay in Ephesus, (1 Corinthians 16:8). It is believed that Paul founded the church in Corinth, Greece around 50 A.D.

When Paul penned 1 Corinthians 11:3, he was responding to and reminding the men folk in the church of Corinth, what unity looks like in Christ; and that the women who were bonded together with them also shared in that unity; and then Paul packaged this all up together into one church body through the unity that Christ had with the Father. This is how verse three is laid out with that understanding:

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

In America, we gravitate to an understanding that the word “head” is associated with “authority”, and we tend to interpret this passage that way, but how did the original audience understand it? The Greek word that was translated into the word “head” in verse 3 was most often used in reference to one’s physical head, but figuratively as it was in this case, carried the idea of kinship, association, and connection, such as a head and its connection to a body metaphor. Indicating a joint-body, or joint-union of two becoming one.

An example would be a man and a woman coming together in marriage, and becoming one flesh, no longer two, but one joint-union. A legal union. The source or kinship of woman is man, therefore man is head. This has nothing to do with who is in charge.

In conclusion, what Paul is trying to communicate is that both men and women together form the body of Christ, and in all that, they are enveloped within the union that exists between Christ and the Father. No, the idea of “head” as in male headship is not what Paul had in mind.

– Mike Huston