A few weeks ago was a big Sunday for Grace Church. It was the first Sunday that our founding pastor, Milo Nussbaum, was not part of our church family in some capacity. The church experienced a week off occasionally when Pastor Milo was away on vacation or ministering somewhere else but had never had a Sunday knowing our founding pastor wouldn’t be back. Pastor Milo started Grace Church in 1958 and faithfully served as senior pastor for over 30 years, retiring in 1992. After his retirement, he continued to attend services regularly. Pastor Milo won’t be attending Grace Church anymore because he went to heaven on Friday, January 29th. In memory of Pastor Milo, I will be sharing what I learned from him for our next few Spot of Grace devotions - starting with humility.
I was called to serve as Grace Church’s third senior pastor in 2012. After only serving for a few weeks, Pastor Nussbaum asked if he could speak to me. I invited him into my office. He gently said that he wanted to respect me coming and if I was uncomfortable with him being there he would be glad to worship somewhere else. He was in his late eighties at this point. He was the founding pastor who had started this church over fifty years ago. He sat there in all honesty and sincerity saying that he was willing to attend somewhere else if I was uncomfortable. That epitomized Pastor Milo’s attitude of humility. This encounter with my brother reminds me of the attitude of humility that John the Baptist expressed towards Christ: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
Pastor Milo understood that humility is an active attitude. Humility doesn’t come simply by thinking humble thoughts, but by living with a humble attitude. That attitude says “You before me”. Humility is also an active decision. It comes from years of thinking of others before myself. I believe that was Pastor Milo’s attitude. That was certainly evident to me that day he came into my office and offered to worship somewhere else. What would you say in that situation? I didn’t say anything for a while. I sat there silently thinking “This is a rare man before me”. This is a man who would willingly care for me more than himself.
When I think about the Lord calling him home, I think and pray that I will be increasingly humble as my brother was humble. The pursuit of humility should be a lifelong goal for us all. I am thankful for the evident example that Pastor Milo left us. As I close, I’ll leave you with the call from God’s word to pursue humility with your lives: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (James 4:10).