POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Book Review - Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney

CJ Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness (Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, 2005)
In a little book of 174 pages (it is one of those small-sized books, I read it in a little over an hour) CJ Mahaney has given us all a great gift. Mahaney in a fun self-depricating tone goes about his task of writing a book on being humble. After all the "expert" on humility seems disqualified to write upon it. The many people who know this man speak of the reality of his life as one rightly tested and seasoned to write such a book. The first part of the book is refreshingly theological. Now, for those who are afraid of the "T-word" do not be alarmed. The tone is pastoral and the writing very approachable here...don't expect a boring dissertation. Part I deals with the wonderful quality of humility and contrasts it with the insidious nature of pride. Chapter 2 - The Perils of Pride, is a gracious cutting into the soul, revealing to us the sickness of pride that lurks, erupts and deceives all of us. The second part of the book looks at the greatest person of humility in history - the person of Christ. Mahaney writes as one close to the person he is describing from the pages of the Bible. He is not a distant observer of the humble servant King, but one who has walked with the Savior for some time. It is such a refreshing thing in our day of sound bites and religious slogans to see one love Christ with heart and admiration...as well as respect for the Cross. His writings on the cross in other places echo here as well. During the first two parts I just felt. "CJ, I'm with you dog, I get it, I hear you, I am a sick prideful dude...and Jesus is our solution, his cross is the great pride defeater...so I need some practical help, I need to know some stuff I can do to fight the beast of Pride!" Well, if I had purused the table of contents I would have know that Part III was called The Practice of True Humility This third section of the book is a gem of practical example and council along with a simplicity that is missing today. So ofter we think the solutions to the issues of our soul are found in counseling, working through issues, etc. Now, these have there place, but what concerns me is the neglect of "Prayer, study of Scripture, Christian Friendship" as great formers of the soul. Mahaney goes to great steps to give us the goods from his own life...how he tries to walk humble with his God. As I made it through the final chapters I kept thinking "Man, it would great to have a little cheat sheet summary of this stuff" Well, wouldn't you know they provided just that with a summary listed on pages 171-172 under the title How to Weaken Pride and Cultivate Humility (Links and parentheticals are mine).
  1. Reflect on the Wonder of the Cross
As Each Day Begins
  1. Begin each day acknowledging your dependence on God and need for God
  2. Begin each day expressing gratefulness to God
  3. Practice the Spiritual Disciplines - Prayer, study of God's Word, worship. Do this consistently each day, at the day's outset if possible
  4. Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture (spoken from an author who lives in the Washington DC metro area)
  5. Cast your cares (worries, etc) on him because he cares for you.
As Each Day Ends
  1. At the end of the day, transfer the glory to God
  2. Before going to sleep, receive the gift of sleep from God and acknowledge his purpose for sleep.
For Special Focus
  1. Study the Attributes of God - Go here for a starter
  2. Study the Doctrines of Grace - Go here for a starter
  3. Study the doctrine of Sin - Go here for a starter
  4. Play Golf as Much as Possible - (Well, I will have to pass on that one, but some of you will delight)
  5. Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself
Through Your Days and Weeks
  1. Identify evidences of grace in others
  2. Encourage and serve others each and every day
  3. Invite and Pursue correction
  4. Respond humbly to trials
More than anything, I needed to read this book at this time in my life. God's timing I suppose. I can be so caught up in me sometimes it is just sickening. Many thanks to CJ as he points out our sickness and offers the Scriptural remedy:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5-7
Sola Deo Gloria ...