In our pocket of the UK, I've noticed, there are many high-flying parents. They are raising the same kind of high-flier offspring, drive fast cars, and live fast lives. Some of their children even dabble in stocks on their school playgrounds, arranging their portfolios on mobile telephones!
It all seems to be cutthroat competition and zippy living. In this, the schools are at ever more pain to produce the best results, raise the standards, cream off the brightest, all in order to feed the hunger for excellence.
Now, deep down there is nothing wrong with pushing toward excellence, or for schools and parents to set high goals. Yet this can become harmful when it brings elements of destructive competition, in which the goal is focused on achieving excellence merely for material gain.
Long ago, someone told about a different kind of excellence. We come upon a most interesting, dynamic way of achieving success when considering his words: "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:11). This was the pronouncement of Christ Jesus.
It is natural for us and for our children to want to learn, to have the desire for increasing knowledge. To each of us, truly, God gives a special gift, and we all can enjoy and learn from each other's individuality. Perhaps the most essential quality requisite for finding this gift is humility, in which we respect the fact that everyone we meet has some special, individual ability that can teach a new lesson, bringing some insight we can profit from.
The word humble is derived from the Latin word meaning "ground." A fertile ground is one that is ready to receive the seeds for propagation. This is the soil that will yield the best crop. The humble thoughts we cherish represent the good mental soil that promotes opportunity and progress. They mark a sure path to excellence. They open the way for each individual to develop his or her abilities to the fullest, without any need to compete.
To embrace humility daily in our thoughts and actions is a great way to glorify God. Then we can declare in the words of Paul the Apostle, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," for we will be living the truth Jesus taught (Phil. 4:13).
Humility and gentleness are doors to greatness and riches and life. Humility is the mark of greatness. It opens the door so that spiritual blessings, thoughts from God, may pour into consciousness and improve human living. Rather than pursue aggressive, competitive plans, the humble learn to wait for the fulfillment of the divine plan and purpose. They know God's voice, and they hear it as they listen for it. This is making use of our inherent spiritual sense, and it's not a competitive activity.
True humility is necessary in that it helps to overcome self-centered thinking. Understanding that we each reflect the nature of God, the all-knowing and all-powerful divine Mind, we find that intelligence is a spiritual quality, not a material attainment dependent on a brain.
How will you know when you are growing humble? When you're less hurt by the neglect of friends or the persecution of enemies; when you don't envy the ability or character of someone else, not to mention his or her material wealth; when you have less resentment and fewer vengeful thoughts; when you forgive people more easily and cheerfully. When you love more unconditionally.
In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy wrote that our true identity, which is spiritual, "has not a single quality underived from Deity" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 475). To the degree that we understand the perfect nature of God, our Life, we no longer believe that daily living must be cutthroat. When we understand the infinite, unchangeable nature of God as Love itself, we no longer believe security can be lacking or variable. When we understand more of the practicality involved in cultivating spiritual sense, we no longer worry about failing.
True humility is the knowledge that we can do nothing all by ourselves, but that with God - as His "image" and "likeness" - we can do all (see Gen. 1:26). This cannot lead to self-depreciation, but only to greater self-respect, the true standard of excellence.