I have often thought little of myself. That is, I’m not of any great significance so what difference can I make or of what value are my thoughts, words, or input? After-all, I grew up on a farm in tiny Woodstock, Minnesota. Can anything good come out of Woodstock? My town was 213 people–we had twice as many cattle on our farm than people in our town! I grew up carrying corn cobs into the house for the kitchen stove, used a two-hole outhouse, took baths in the barn, and the first phone I used was a wooden box on the wall with the ear-piece on a wire you held to your ear. I milked cows every day and wore hand-me-downs from my older brothers until I left for college. We talked simple, ate farm food, were unrefined and lived by biblical wisdom and old-fashioned values.
None of us thought much of ourselves. We actually didn’t think about ourselves hardly ever! Life was about hard work, standing up for family and enjoying the little things–like fresh boiled corn on the cob and a good night of fast-pitch softball at the local diamond.
That’s why this little statement in 1 Samuel 15:17 grabbed my attention. The prophet Samuel said to King Saul, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel?”
Saul was shocked when he was anointed to be Israel’s first king, mostly because he thought so little of himself. His tribe of Benjamin had a not-so-distant shameful history and his family was small and of no significance. Saul probably never thought much about being a person of influence. And then one day, while on a stray donkey hunt, God arranges a divine appointment to inform him of Heaven’s plans.
Years later, when Samuel makes the above statement, Saul has strayed from his devotion to God. He’s “playing by ear” and doing his thing the way he wants to do it. It’s fascinating that Samuel would refer back to Saul’s view of himself in a moment of undeniable waywardness.
This got me to thinking…. How dangerous is it for me to “think little of myself?” Yes–I know, pride goes before a fall, God gives grace to the humble, etc. I’m certainly not diminishing any of that. But how often to do I downplay the significance of my role because of how I feel about myself. After all, if God has called, anointed and equipped me, who am I to diminish what God has planned for me to do?
Saul thought little of himself and failed desperately. I want my simple beginnings to be a strength that God can use, not a weakness upon which I will stumble.
How about you?