Last Summer, my family travelled to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania – Amish country. I have never been around the Amish – and in reality, I still haven’t. However, in the small towns of Lancaster County, PA we were able to observe – even from afar – the impact that the Amish lifestyle had on the surrounding area.
Now, please do not misunderstand the purpose for this post. I am not idolizing the Amish, nor am I stating an agreement with all of their beliefs and practices. In fact, I know very little about their beliefs and practices. However, since I think that all believers can learn from one another (see “Learning from one another“), I believe we can learn from the Amish, as well.
Primarily, I think we can learn about rejecting pride and embracing humility from the Amish. Consider this from the Wikipedia article on the Amish:
Two key concepts for understanding Amish practices are their rejection of Hochmut (pride, arrogance, haughtiness) and the high value they place on Demut or “humility” and Gelassenheit (German, meaning: calmness, composure, placidity) â€” often translated as “submission” or “letting-be,” but perhaps better understood as a reluctance to be forward, self-promoting, or to assert oneself in any way. The willingness to submit to the Will of God, as expressed through group norms, is at odds with the individualism so central to the wider American culture.
I think it is interesting that this author recognized submission to the Will of God as expressed through group norms as a characteristic that places the Amish at odds with “wider American culture”, and I would add, wider church culture. But, to me, what differentiates the Amish from other Americans and other American Christians is the emphasis on rejecting pride and embracing humility.
Even within the church, rejecting pride and embracing humility is not always seen as a positive thing. We still like to place our Christian celebrities on a pedestal, and then we gasp and kick them when they fall. We will submit to others when we agree with them, and submit to the will of God when we can analyze it, explain it, and recognize the personal benefits. We’re humble when it benefits us, and we’ll be glad to point out our humility.
Am I exaggerating? Perhaps a little. But generally, Christians are not know for their humility. This seems contrary to Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
Paul then holds up Jesus Christ – the only one who has a right to pride and boasting – as an example of humility, servanthood, and submission to the will of God. We do have encouragement in Christ, we do have comfort from love, and we do have fellowship (participation) in the Spirit, so why do we not demonstrate the type of humility that we see in this passage. Perhaps we are not walking in what we have from God?
I think we can learn something from the Amish in this regard. This doesn’t mean that we have to drive carriages and shun electricity. But, perhaps we can shun pride and pushing our own agenda, and instead embrace humility and an attitude of service toward one another.
Then again, perhaps I’m the only one who thinks this is a problem. Do you think the American church has a problem with pride and humility? If so, then how do we begin rejecting pride and embracing humility?