If you’ve been reading my articles over the years, you would remember that I grew up in Los Angeles and did regular birthday pilgrimages to Disneyland every year for decades. I’m sure I’ve walked Main Street 40 or more times. And until fairly recently didn’t have many concerns about this.
Of course, one goes to such a place to escape the realities of this crazy and often painful world. In its beginning, Walt Disney wanted to create a place where he could take his daughter to have meaningful and even educational fun. He wanted her to relive the past of America by entering Frontierland and to dream of a bright future in Tomorrowland. Since there was always an emphasis placed on being positive, it was easy to believe in the park’s legend as “the happiest place on earth.” After all, the park’s theme song says, “When you wish upon a star your dreams come true!” Fantasyland, indeed.
Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Fantasyland ... why isn’t there a Humbleland? You know, a place where the shooting gallery has you hit one out of 20 targets or where the revolving displays show your past and your present situations in life. As a pastor, it might review the marriages you performed that ended in divorce or the baptized members that left. It could show your churches not exactly reenacting Pentecost or your many oopses in sermons and memorable board meetings. It would indeed be Humbleland.
But why pay more than $100 to go there? It’s already where we live. But I’m here to tell you that it is not all bad. I always thought it was a fun thing to say after receiving a compliment, “Yes, it’s an effort to remain humble!” It’s funny because it’s true. Humor tickles us because it cleverly reveals truth. And the truth is we are often tempted to be proud. In fact, I’m not sure there are any other sins!
As pastors and guest speakers, we are always in the limelight. We are the local stars, and we are tempted to think we are something special. This leads us into other problems that can hurt our feelings. Why weren’t we placed on that important committee? Why were we not asked to lead in worship at that particular gathering? Why didn’t that board meeting appreciate my obvious wisdom?
What’s the cure? A few things help. When we think about who the real Superstar is and how He handled it, it gives us perspective. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
Secondly, realize how easy it is for God to keep us humble! I sometimes laugh at how God allows us to make silly mistakes — like in our preaching. I always thank God for this, lest I begin to think more of myself than I ought. Mistakes can keep us humble.
After having pastored churches with no rumblings like my friends had in their churches, I must have been tempted to think I was pretty good at this minister thing. Then I had my own rebellion and it really put my feet on the ground, especially when God revealed to me the painful truths of how I had contributed to those rumblings.
Okay, so I get why Disney hasn’t created a Humbleland. Who would want to go there ... again? God has granted me a walk down Main Street in my own Humbleland, many more times than forty! I know every crack in the road. I think He’s trying to prepare me to handle a crown.