To Walk Humbly as the Queen
I have been struck in recent days regarding the details surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It is interesting that in today’s world of partisan politics which is filled with so much anger, the Queen stood so far above it all that she became not only a symbol to the people of the United Kingdom but of the world. That was evident as 200 dignitaries and guests attended her funeral and 1 million visitors traveled to London to observe the funeral procession. Additionally, there were crowds of people who, in some cases, waited 16-22 hours to see her lying in state. They say the lines stretched for five miles. It’s been calculated that even here in the U.S., over 11 million people watched the funeral service in its entirety.
What was the draw? What was it about this 96-year-old woman that captivated the hearts and minds of so many people? Most realized that it was the end of an era. There would never be a funeral like this in our lifetime. But if you listened to newspeople and commentators, everyone was focused on the queen’s character that she displayed for 70 years while on the throne. How she exemplified traits that are missing in today’s world—integrity, respect, and self-restraint. Especially self-restraint. In a world filled with narcissism that focuses entirely on our own feelings and what’s best for ourselves individually, the Queen modeled an “others first” perspective (the “other” being the entire nation) that was a throwback to an earlier time and yet one that the world seems to be crying out for. She did it for 70 years and most people don’t have a clue as to how she did it or how to get it for themselves.
That concern for others was apparently grounded in a humility that those who think often about themselves struggle to find. It’s hard to think of others when all you are doing is focusing on yourself all the time.
I struggle with that often. I am selfish by nature, and it is hard at times to put aside my wants to better serve others.
I did a little research on the word humility, since that is the character trait at the heart of a willingness to be others-oriented.
Positive Psychology.com: Humility is the attitude of spiritual modesty that comes from understanding our place in the large order of things.
Biblical humility: believing what God says about you over anyone else’s opinion, including your own.
The Hebrew-Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?
In Hebrew, the word is described as being reserved, modest, and lowly—as compared to an attitude of pride which God’s Word describes as arrogant and presumptuous.
I find when looking at Micah 6:8, the key line in the verse is the first: “He (God) has told you, O man, what is good.”
Right out of the gate we understand two important things:
- Our place in this world is dependent upon and under the Lord and
- He alone determines what is good and what that means for us.
The Queen understood this. Here was the last great monarch of the modern age who ruled an empire—then a commonwealth, and was worth untold billions of dollars—listen to what she said in her Christmas message to the nation in the year 2000,
“For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to live my life.”
And then in 2008,
“I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life. He makes clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than being served.”
Here is not only a great example of humility but one that can only be achieved through a relationship with Jesus Christ. And how refreshing to hear a world leader so plainly articulate not only her belief in Christ but her subservient position before the Lord Almighty.
For me, while the world has been focused on the regal splendor and pomp surrounding the ceremony of her funeral and many have paid respect to her life as an example of service and humility, I am reminded that her willingness to set aside herself and serve the greater good of her people only came because she rightly understood where her example of such service came from as well as her place beneath the ultimate Royalty—the King of Kings.
It is an important reminder that in a world where there is so much focus on me, myself, and I, our hearts have been created by God to be others-centered. The fact that such a perspective is one we often must fight through selfishness to achieve is testament to our sinful nature and the need we have for a Savior.
The Queen gave us an incredible example of what it means to sacrifice oneself for others as she properly understood her need for a Savior and her place beneath Him in the grand order of things. An example all of us would do well to follow.
By Jim Sullivan, Woodcrest Christian School System Superintendent