This last week I applied for a job, as the extra money would be nice. It could take pressure off of our church as we don’t have a lot of either people nor money. Over the years, I have worked part-time as a coach and done other moonlighting to bring in additional income. I get fearful when the church coffers get low and I might not get paid. These days the coffers are pretty low.

But it doesn’t look like I will even get a second look for this position. While I was encouraged when I dropped off my application, resume and cover letter that I would likely get a call that afternoon, I haven’t been responded to with an email, call or text since.

I have stewed in frustration and pride. Thoughts in my head bounce around like, “Don’t they know who I am?!?!” I tell myself, “I guarantee I am the most qualified person for this job they could find!” Then I sulk and feel sorry for myself.

The most convicting part of the last week is the realization that my pride so readily rises up with its ambitions for money, positions, and promotions, as my faith retreats to the backseat.

But these hobbits keep calling my name.

One of the great tethers of my spiritual journey has been 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11. It reads, “And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you”.

This verse keeps in my mind that money, positions, and promotions may not be the path that Jesus calls most of us to.

I think that 1 Timothy 6:6-10 offers a great reason for this… “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Certainly, money is one of the traps that draws us in. The enemy has many traps that are terrifically effective, especially when we/I am so prone to ambition and pride.

Yet I am grateful that these Hobbits keep calling my name.

Consider The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien. In the stories, the ONLY effective ring bearers are the diminutive, simple-minded, easily-overlooked, humble Hobbits. Hobbits personify the pursuit of the quiet life.

In stark contrast, the great warrior, Boromir, from the powerful city of Minas Tirith, succumbs to the power of the Ring. Boromir personifies the reach for greatness. His pride, strength and ambition are his downfall.

Another one who succumbed to the power of the ring was Gollum. He was once a man, but his obsession with “the Precious” transforms him into a half man/half animal—a sniveling, grasping, enslaved wretch. His willingness to do anything to have “My Precious,” causes repulsion, but it can even strike a chord of recognition. At least a little bit of Gollum is in each of us, as Jonathan Benz writes.

Benz relates how this humility and self-awareness can transform Christians as they relate to people controlled by addictions. He writes, “If we are preparing to help an addict into recovery and find ourselves dealing with intense feelings of revulsion and disgust toward his or her compulsive behaviors, we have not done the the hard work of looking at our inner Gollum and sizing it up for what it is: a dehumanizing compulsion to choose our own enslavement (to desire, ambition, and lust) over the Spirit’s life-giving freedom. Chances are, too, that the greater the repulsion, the greater the externalizing of our inner Gollum.”

See that? Benz believes that when we recoil from the obvious sins of others, we probably have not done the work of examining the sin within our own hearts.

Humility is our constant companion and friend in the spiritual journey…a veritable Samwise Gamgee of quiet fortitude against temptation and help in keeping the proper perspective. Humble self-awareness is also the key to becoming a faith community that welcomes and receives the prodigals with the love of the Father. Nothing, as I see it, could be more important for churches.

The apostle Paul, the greatest of all church-planters, had this humble self-awareness. He wrote,

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 4:12-16)

My soul has required a bit of housecleaning work this week. I have issues of pride that need to be checked. So glad these hobbits keep calling my name.