Can You Be Both Humble and Great?

Gwen Smith Blog, Humility, I Want It All 12 Comments


John the Baptist stood out like a sore thumb. Created and set apart by God for a specific task. A great task. The greatest. To prepare the way of the Lord. A human megaphone for Jesus, John the Baptist spoke words of maximum volume as he pointed others to the One and Only and prophetically authenticated the divinity and eternal nature of Christ.

John knew who he was and he knew who Jesus was. He was all about Jesus. Unashamedly unique, John didn’t cave to comfort, popularity, expectations of others, or tradition. Instead, he walked in obedience to God and sought to make much of the Messiah.

He was an odd bird who ate some seriously unconventional food. I’m down with the honey that he was fond of, but I stop way short of snacking on locusts.


It just wouldn’t even cross my mind to put a big bug in my mouth for nutrition.

Just saying.

And then there was his crazy fashion sense. Pretty sure his clothes caused more than a few eyebrows to rise. Camel’s hair was not necessarily the fabric of choice for the average Hebrew man in his day. But that’s what John wore.

Clearly, impressing others with his coolness was not John’s forte, nor his priority. He was different. Probably not the first one picked for the dodge ball games at Hebrew school and he might’ve even got teased: “Your breath smells like stinky bugs!” Who knows? What we do know about John the Baptist is that he was born for greatness, not for average. But he didn’t go about his days trying to be great. John was focused on pointing people to Jesus—not himself. He was on a sacred mission, which left others wondering about him.

The crowds wondered who he was.

They wanted to know why he did the things he did. The Israelites hadn’t seen a prophet in four hundred years. Something was surely up with this guy. One day John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. The priests and Levites hounded him with questions.

Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’

‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’” (John 1:22-27)

Commissioned by God to be famous for Jesus, John had a humble heart and perspective. “I’m not even worthy to untie this guy’s sandals

I love what Pastor and Author Dr. Tony Evans has to say about this topic. “God is not opposed to greatness. God is opposed to pride. Big difference. Unfortunately, it is a difference not widely understood or embraced.”

Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV).

OUR JOB:  be humble before God and to others.

GOD’S JOB:  to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.

“He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

One way I position myself to live out this step is to welcome accountability. My closest girlfriends and I have a deal. If they see anything in my life that shortchanges God’s glory, they have permission to tell me about it.

Even if it hurts my pride.

Even if it hurts my feelings.

My besties have permission to challenge me toward holiness, toward excellence in Christ. And I have permission to speak honestly to them too. It helps to keep us humble. Cause let’s be real here. The tiny particles of sin-dust that get into our eyes can multiply into hardened scales of blindness quicker than you can fry an egg on an Arizona sidewalk midday in August.

Ultimately, to be great in God’s eyes, we have to get over ourselves and become the least.


Please refine me to think, respond, and live humbly.
Let my life be an arrow that points to Your greatness.
In Jesus’ name, amen.



Read John 3:30, then answer this question. What is one thing you could do today that would point to the greatness of Jesus?

Visit my blog or Facebook page to share your answer. {And by the way, I can’t wait to read your answers! I’m curious like that.}

Thanks for doing life with me! 🙂



Today’s devotion is an excerpt from my latest book, I Want It ALL.

Are you struggling to see your potential for greatness? My book, I Want It All, will help you to dust off a few heart dreams, think bigger thoughts of God, laugh and smile a lot, search your soul, and even cry a little … because each page lovingly directs you to the personal grace and truth of JESUS. (CLICK HERE to get a FREE Downloadable “7 Day I WANT IT ALL” Devotional Ebook.)

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Comments 12

  1. This is a song I wrote that I think might answer.
    Just Trust In Jesus
    Jim Reeves

    Just trust in Jesus. Give Him all your cares. He’ll be beside you, leading the way. When you’re discouraged drop down on your knees and pray to the Lord above for He’ll meet your every need.

    Verse 1
    There will be trials and tribulations. Yes, there’ll be trials and tribulations. Oh, there’ll be trials and tribulations saith the Lord. When those troubles come along and you feel you can’t go on. Put your hand in Jesus’ hand, He’ll make you whole.

    Verse 2
    What about those world temptations; Oh, those deadly world temptations; when the devil puts temptation at your door. When you’re weak and lead astray He’ll be with you all the way. Put your hand in Jesus’ hand He’ll make you whole

    Verse 3
    When the world has got you down and it seems peace can’t be found; when it seems that problems are too much to bear. Just be steadfast in your faith. He’ll be there to show His grace. Put your hand in Jesus’ hand He’ll make you whole.

  2. I’m writing a lesson plan for the California School Nurses Organization on Population Health. Right now I’m focusing on adolescent health. I will work to focus the school nurses on the importance of showing these students cultural competency through their skilled care, through compassion and understanding. Seeing the student’s health need through the eyes of the adolescent, not through the eyes of the judgmental adult. (Like me!) Thus helping with communication and reducing fear and angst. This is loving as Jesus loved. In Luke 5:12-13, the Leper knew that if Jesus were willing, he would be healed. All he did was ask if Jesus were willing. He is! This is how we are to approach the youth in our care. Willingly, positively, as Jesus did.

  3. I am volunteering in our church office on Thursdays and Fridays and we have people come in looking for help and food. Our church has a food pantry and I give them food, but I also ask them if they would like to know more about God’s Love and what He can do in their life. I also have a meeting today with a group of ladies and out assistant Pastor to line out a inside yardsale in the gym of our church and I want to speak only words that will build each up and not tear down. These ladies and the Asst. Pastor mean a lot to me and I know that as we work together to make this fund raising project a success so kids that can’t afford to go to CIY will be able to go. I only want to please Jesus with my words, my actions and my thoughts. In our Women’s Sunday School class we are studying a book entitled “Keep it Shut” by Karen Edham and it has really opened my eyes to realize how many unnecessary words I speak whether in person or online. I am really trying to watch my words and speak only words in love that will build up another or encourage them. I am asking God to be with me and to keep a guard over my mouth to keep me from saying anything that does not please Him.

  4. Today I will strive to make everything about JESUS and not about me. I will do everything for JESUS. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

  5. This morning I’m meeting with the administrative council of our church’s women’s group to propose changes to our annual fund raiser. Although I’m feeling intimidated, I’m going to approach these ladies as friends and hope they will do the same. I fear that often what others perceive as pride is often only that – a perception. I know that God knows our true heart but it sure does hurt when others can not see our true intention.

  6. I have to teach kindergarten today. It’s very easy to be humble with them so I will open my eyes and heart to be on their level. To reach them where they are. And definitely to learn from them .

  7. I must decrease, I feel like that means for me to die to myself. I am not important, Jesus is the important one. I need to walk in light each and every day. It is not always easy. Thank you so much for what you do. You are a blessing.

  8. Remove self out the equation and remember whose you are and remember it’s all about JESUS! He’s the only true friend indeed.

  9. Sharpen friends are good friends – Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy!

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