A Prayer: Not for Greatness but for Likeness {#LentChallenge}

“The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted” Matthew 23:11-12.

Merciful Lord,

Forgive me for the timesI have not practiced what I teach. What grief it is to my heart that those who have learned lessons from me have had to rely on their ears, because their eyes could not find the truth displayed in my life. So many times I have failed to look like you, the Word made flesh. No, far too many times I have confined words to the page, and hid my true and dying self from others. Forgive me.

Forgive me for the times when I have made following you burdensome to others. I recall times when I have placed obedience as a heavy weight upon their shoulders. Too many times I have failed to lift a finger in service of grace, mercy, and love. I am hard on others and soft with myself. I hoard generous grace for myself. I require that others be perfect; I settle for the undisciplined in myself. I have presented you as an unsatisfiable taskmaster, an unforgiving tyrant, and a stingy friend. Forgive me.

Forgive me for seeking titles and honor. When you have asked me to faithfully serve unseen, unknown, and unrecognized, I have rebuffed you with indignation. I have been offended and hurt when I have become invisible in the shadow of your radiant love and perfect wisdom. I have wanted too much credit and praise. I have desired to be impressive when all you have asked me to do is invite others to see at your beauty and taste your goodness. I sulk in puddles of entitlements. I compete to be the best. Forgive me.

Forgive me for clinging so tightly to the world’s definition of greatness. I have run fast after accomplishments, degrees, and positions. I am embarrassed when I fail not because I have been faithless to you, but because others can see inadequacy and weakness. I do not want to be the lesser than one. I daily capitulate to pride’s sensitivity. Forgive me.

Might I still be your servant?  Will you teach me how?  Not for greatness, but for likeness. Please let your humility be found in me and proved by the towel in my hand. Give me feet to wash and wounds to clean. Give me grace for insult. Allow them to magnify any labor as love. May following you in all ways dull my desire to be anymore than a humble servant in your shadow, happy to be busy with the sweat of sacrifice.  Do not exalt me, Lord, I pray! Exalt yourself in me.

Amen.

***

I’m joining Margaret for the #LentChallenge of reading the New Testament in forty days. Will you join us? Today’s reading is Matthew 19-24.

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