I’ve read this verse from Proverbs 18:12 at least a hundred times before, “…humility goes before honor“, but it literally jumped off the page and slapped me in the face this week.
I read the word humility, but my mind thought the word humiliation.
The two words are closely related.
A quick glance at Dictionary.com showed me that humility comes from the word humilitatem meaning “lowness, insignificance.”
This is how that proverb sounded to me: “Honor comes after you’ve been humiliated”
Humiliation! Now that’s something I know a few things about.
One of my first jobs out of college was selling FairFax vacuum cleaners door to door. I sold 3… one to my mom, one to my mom’s friend (who couldn’t qualify for financing) and one to a sweet little old lady who used to let me mow her yard when I was a kid.
She bought my $1,300 vacuum cleaner and gave me her brand new Kirby as a trade-in. When I think back on that career choice, only one word comes to mind… humiliation!
Actually, my very first job out of college was working for a small church out in the East Texas town of Athens. I was responsible for the teenagers, calling on sick folks and pastoral care (i.e. whatever the pastor doesn’t care to do himself).
So much went wrong that the pastor finally asked me and my wife to secretly slip out the side door after telling my Sunday School class I wouldn’t be back again.
I don’t know what that pastor told the rest of the church. I can only imagine.
That was humiliating!
I spent the next 12 years, after my debacle in Athens, helping my father-in-law pioneer (start from scratch) a new church. He was willing to take me on even though I had been a glorious failure in my last church.
Those were the 12 best years of my life so far. It never paid all the bills. So, I was constantly looking for a way to make more money. That’s how I learned even more humility:
Shortly before selling vacuum cleaners, I had my first stint in telemarketing. I called J.C. Penny cardholders and convinced them to buy AD&D (accidental death & dismemberment) insurance. Now, I couldn’t actually sell the insurance because I wasn’t a licensed at that time, but I could call an agent over anytime I had someone ready to buy. They would close the deal and I would take the next call – “beep!”.
I guess the only thing more humiliating than being the telemarketer was being the licensed insurance agent taking my telemarketing sales.
After I sold those (3) vacuum cleaners, I returned to the fabulous life of telemarketing.
This time I was selling long-distance and setting health insurance leads for NASE (National Association of the Self-Employed). It was at about this time that the real hatred for telemarketers started surfacing.
I got quite a few good comments from the people I called. My favorite retort was short & sweet and went something like this:
Me: “Hello, is Mr. Jones available?”
Them: “No, he’s not here… he has a real job!”
Now, that’s what I call humiliation!