The Pencil and the Notebook - A Lesson in Humility

Devotionals from Leslie Ludy and the Set Apart Girl Team

The Pencil and the Notebook - A Lesson in Humility

by Leslie Ludy | September 3, 2013

Hudson, my eight-year-old, is an aspiring writer. The other day, he came home from school with a short story he’d composed.  Maybe I’m just a biased mamma, but I was quite impressed by his creativity.  His story, (minus the hilarious spelling and grammar mishaps) reads like this: 

Once there was a pencil and a notebook.

“Hey puny! I am huge compared to you,” said the notebook.

The pencil was angry.  He thought of ways he could be better than the notebook. 

Then he spoke up.  “I can make your paper messy!”

The notebook was silent.  Then he said to the pencil,

“I last a long time, but you get short!”

 “Well I come in packets of 50, but you come single!” said the pencil.

“People use me for school,” said the notebook.

“They use me for school too!” said the pencil.

Then the notebook and pencil realized that they were made to go together!

“We are both as good as each other,” they said.

The End.

In this quirky little tale of the pencil and the notebook, Hudson effectively illustrated the principle of Philippians 2:3:  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.

This principle of “putting others first” is something I’m constantly trying to instill in my children.  Putting others down and lifting ourselves up is something that is ingrained into our sinful, fleshly natures.  My kids are always struggling with the concept of “taking the lowest place” and considering others as more important than themselves.  Phrases such as, “Give it back, I had it first!” or “It’s not fair - I wanted the red cup!” are far more plentiful in the Ludy home than I would like.

Though we typically become more socially refined in our selfishness as we grow into adulthood, often we never grasp what it means to be truly humble.  In Romans 12:3 Paul exhorts us: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think

In our “put yourself first” culture, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking too highly of ourselves.  Instead of looking for ways to build others up, we are often far more concerned with building ourselves up.  Whether we strive to be the center of attention at social gatherings, gossip and put others down in order to elevate our own reputation, or spend the majority of our time trying to build up our popularity on social media platforms – our society is rife with opportunities to choose self-honor over humility. 

This week, ask God for the grace to tune out the “me, me, me” messages of our culture, and focus on building others up, instead of yourself.  Look for ways to encourage and strengthen those around you.   When we approach others with an attitude of true humility, we reflect the glory of God and reveal the nature of Christ. 

I suppose I might be extracting a deeper meaning from “The Pencil and the Notebook” story than the author originally intended.  However, I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from the simplistic musings of an eight-year-old…humility, rather than selfishness, is always the best choice.