Come Down Where You Ought to Be

Come Down Where You Ought to Be

This summer, I attended a national convention of church leaders in Atlanta. It was wonderful to be in the company of the renowned, the famous, the brilliant, and the experts. Everywhere I turned there went another one.

What really drove me wild was that they would actually stop and talk to me… me, a little, unknown church lady from the Midwest. They acted like they knew me. Then, I realized they did know me. It dawned on me that I was famous! Who knew? How could I be anybody of note? Yet, sure enough they kept coming: asking me to sign my book, to have lunch with them, to sit in on their “round table discussion.” Wow! This was great. I was outstanding in my field.

Down on Peachtree Street

In the midst of this Who’s Who in the Catholic Church, I would go for a walk down Peachtree Street with my colleagues every afternoon for lunch. Each day, I would pass a beautiful African American woman who stood on the sidewalk singing hymns to Jesus. She was unabashedly proclaiming praise and adoration in a well trained mezzo soprano voice that took my breath away. People ignored her, laughed at her, and treated her like a crazy person. Yet she was unruffled. She just kept singing. It took real humility to bear such ridicule. I realized, straight out, that I could never be so bold, so humble, to stand there looking like a fool because of my faith.

It was then, one evening at prayer, that God spoke to me in the quiet of my heart: “Don’t let your popularity go to your head, Sweet Cheeks. You are only any good at all because I am infinitely good. Everything you say, everything you do is just a shadow of my Word.” I realized that I needed to keep my swollen head in check and if I didn’t, God would be more than willing to help me out.  I vowed to behave myself and “come down where I ought to be.”

Then I put two and two together. The Divine Teacher was trying to get through to me: No one of us is any better than anyone else. He wants his disciples humble. He especially wants his priests, lay ministers, and vowed religious to be even more humble than the rest of the flock. He was serious when he said we should always take the last seat. The minute we sit up front because we think we are special, anointed, gifted, we are no longer any of those things. In fact, a friend prays that every day God will give him a moment of humility.

A Daily Dose of Humility

So I began, that very day as I passed that lovely singer, asking God to give me my daily dose of humility. Since then, I have had multiple corrections for my limited computer skills, lost my wallet and found it exactly where it was supposed to be, was asked if I wanted a senior discount, and mispronounced a Latin term in front of a scripture scholar. I am waiting: to forget someone’s name in an introduction, congratulate a non-pregnant, overweight woman on her pregnancy, and have spinach between my teeth and not realize it, for God does answer prayers!

The lesson for all of us is that we must be on guard against believing that we are elite, special, or a cut above. It is a poison that will bring our downfall and keep us from doing God’s work. I will remember my Atlanta singer and the lesson I learned at my moment in the sun…or in that Son. He brought me down where I ought a be, and I’m darn grateful to be just a good old, church lady from the Midwest.

Photo Credit: Idea go


About the Author

Jeanne Hunt is a product development director at Franciscan Media. She is a well-known speaker and author on topics of women’s spirituality, marriage and family life. Her latest book is Celebrating Saints and Seasons: Hundreds of Activities for Catholic Children.
  • Mghaigerty

    Amen, sister in Christ.  We as Catholics are on guard against lust, greed, rage, gluttony, etc., but we often seem to eat up fame, which is just pride in disguise.  When we live for public recognition, the front page of our church paper, for praise from our Church leaders, for adulation and awards, for other people to know how great and gifted we are, we forget Jesus’ words: don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…when you’ve done all that’s asked, say “I am a useless servant”…the greatest should be least.  Oh, but it’s tempting, with the profusion of media, to be the famous evangelist/blogger/spokesperson/chief defender of the faith and let that all go to your head and go toward building up your ego.  I believe we have “Catholic Rock Stars” in the Church, who are idolized and renowned and “followed” for their dynamic, charismatic, super-Catholic giftedness.  It’s especially easy for bishops and priests to fall into this trap, because we already tend to put them on pedestals.  But lay people – including myself – can be just as bad.  Who doesn’t want to be seen as the “Voice of God” on earth, in America, in one’s region, or diocese, or parish?  But is it my voice I like to hear, or God’s? And if it is God’s, I don’t need to be the one talking.  God can use anyone and everyone.  I’m no more special than the next person; maybe less so.  And think about this: why, if it is a Christian or Catholic recording artist, supposedly praising God, do we need to see how handsome or pretty they are on the promotional materials?  What does that matter?  Why not just an icon of Christ, and leave your picture off of it?  Done. 

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  • CarlisleMLH

    Hey there, Jeanne!  Is this the “wild woman” (recently)from Maria Stein???  [I missed your intro there because I was yet recouperating from our 8-HOUR business meeting!!!  and came into your session a few minutes late.]  I enjoyed your work w/ us.  ‘Hope to see you again @ SMOW! :)))