By Lisa Huddleston
“Be careful that you don’t forget the LORD your God by failing to keep His command—the ordinances and statutes—I am giving you today. … Be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Deut. 8:11, 14).
What was Gen. Stanley McChrystal thinking when he openly criticized his Commander in Chief and ridiculed members of the Obama administration to a reporter from Rolling Stone? Was he looking for someone to take the blame for the recent deterioration in Afghanistan? Was he overcome by a desire to appear “cool” in Rolling Stone? Did he forget that he would have to answer for his actions? What in the world was he thinking?
As inappropriate as his remarks were and despite his deserving to be removed from his post, I can’t help feeling sorry for the man. He has to be ashamed of his failure to remember his place. I suffer with him at the public nature of his disgrace, and it’s more than sympathy I feel. I can relate to his embarrassment and am thankful that my failures to remember my place have not been as public. However, they have made an impact and serve as markers to help me remember who I am.
One such embarrassment came when I was a first-year teacher in a public high school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. I was assigned an older teacher as my mentor and was required to observe some of her classes to learn how to manage my students better. After watching for a few days, I arrogantly criticized this woman’s abilities to another teacher in the school who immediately told my mentor. I see my pride today. I had no experience and a lot of book knowledge—a dangerous and even ridiculous combination—but I thought I knew more than she did about how to run a classroom. I was ashamed when I learned that she had heard every word I said. Thankfully, she remembered what it was like to be young and stupid, and she graciously continued to mentor me—after a tearful, humbling apology on my part. I had forgotten who I was. She was the one with the experience. She was the one who was serving as the mentor. I was supposed to be gleaning from her wisdom rather than criticizing her actions. I still blush and feel sick when I think of my presumption and pride.
Both of these examples, McChrystal’s and mine, are reminders of the importance of knowing your place. As followers of Jesus Christ, our place is clear—it is one of submission. He is Lord, and we are not. A simple concept but one that I fail to remember on an almost daily basis. When I choose to disobey his commands, I am putting myself in the place of God. When I judge others and place my convictions on them, I am putting myself in the place of the Holy Spirit. When I put my needs and my desires ahead of the needs of others, I am failing to follow the Lord and am putting myself in a place that I don’t deserve.
Yes, my heart aches for Gen. McChrystal even as my head shakes in disbelief. It is important to remember who we are. Jesus is Lord, and we are not. I know it—so why don’t I act like it?