If you are a woman, don’t ask me for a letter of recommendation. I’m going to make you write your own. Women have the hardest time expressing our strengths, bragging on our accomplishments, and saying that we want something—all the things that a letter of recommendation does.

In some way, it’s because we already have an internal humility, perhaps learned, perhaps internalized from the way we’re taught to take care of others. With few exceptions, women don’t need lessons on humility.

In fact, sometimes we need just the opposite.

The Narrative Lectionary is carrying us to Philippians 2:1-13 this morning. You can find the Working Preacher commentary here. Check out verses 3 and 4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 

Theologians and self-help teachers have long told us that in order to be fully good servants, we must have once had an option to be served. We cannot understand humility until we experience confidence.

How’s your confidence?

I hate to say it so publicly, but mine is shot.

A great Baptist historian recently said to me, “Your church called you too late.” With the downturn in churches from the last decade, to the glass cliff of our churches today, and so much pressure to “turn it around,” and, well, frankly, not enough resources, not enough people, not enough energy, I wonder if it can be done. Sure, I’ve read some of the books… “Do this, this, and this, and your church will be saved!”

It’s not that simple.

And finding my confidence, let alone arrogance, is where I struggle.

How many others are feeling the same way? How about in our pews? Are they feeling confident, better than others, even conceit?

Need I remind you that the changes we’re experiencing in church are happening everywhere?

So in a crisis of confidence, what shall we do?

Over and over again in my own crises of confidence, I have found that sharing my vulnerability helps. That baring my soft-belly helps. That leaning on others and asking for help works. It’s like humility begets confidence. Let’s try it.

What about you? Where will you go?

  • The Working Preacher piece suggests that downward mobility is how God works in the world. What would examples of that be in our day?
  • This Christ who is preached can certainly be contrasted with some politicians (let’s leave them nameless, eh?). We are voting this week, how will we seek out humble politicians?
  • This is the famous, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” passage. What does that mean to you? And how can you preach that?

Blessings on your preparation and delivery this week. And in case you don’t remember it, because you’re too busy being humble, YOU’RE AWESOME!

Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).

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2 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary: Work Out Your Own Salvation (Philippians 2:1-13)

  1. It must be spirit led….as I have some of the same feelings. As women I agree with the feeling that we need lessons in self affirmation… but I get the idea Paul was going for. I want to tell folks about putting others first in some of the disagreements that are going on lately. I feel called to challenge them to push forward even though everything is changing all around us. I started preaching more narrative/storytelling –without notes in the past few weeks. Where am I going? I may talk about Millard Fuller… and JFK’s “Ask not what you country can do for you…” I believe we can’t be church and serve our own needs anymore… if we are going down then let’s go down serving our neighbors.


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