In my previous life—in my self-centered and sinful life before I went back to God (and before my aneurysm episode)—I was a very proud man. Specifically, I was an extremely arrogant motoring editor who believed that I was the best at what I did. I believed I deserved the red carpet, the seat at the presidential table, the journalism award, the first dibs, the “No. 1” status.
And I used to gauge the importance of a publication by the frequency of overseas trips that it got invited to. I used to think that a media outlet was significant and was respected by the industry if it regularly got to join international events.
Last year, as part of my “humility training” from the Lord, something happened to make me realize the shallowness of my belief (read: the conviction that inclusion in the “all-important” media lists meant something). One automaker sponsored a pair of test drives in Thailand (yes, not just one but two). The brand invited several publications and websites—except us.
A series of questions danced around my head:
Did they hate us?
Well, they were still inviting us to the local events.
Were we such a small website that we couldn’t even attract their attention?
Maybe, but then there were other participants that were equally small.
Did they not like the way we produced our stories?
Was it just a case of miscommunication on their part?
I no longer cared, to be honest. Or so I thought.
There was a time in my career when I used to take note of these things. You know, so I could get even when I had the chance. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Admittedly, when the above-mentioned incident took place, I was seriously affected. But then, if I took revenge, wouldn’t that make me a fake Christian? If I couldn’t even overlook a simple affront, wouldn’t that be the opposite of humility?
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
So, one day, I struggled with God about this. I just wanted to let go of the sting. I knew it was nothing, but how come I was so upset?
God’s message to me? The reason I was so disturbed was that I still cherished my pride in my heart. In my mind, I was still a VIP. But God was breaking me and molding me. He didn’t want the swellheaded version of me.
And anyway, so what if the car company in question didn’t invite us to the trip? That was entirely its right. It was the company’s strategy, its plan, its money. I (or any other editor) had absolutely no right to challenge that.
I surrendered and posted this cryptic statement on Facebook:
I can’t describe to you how relieved I felt after declaring to people that I was NOBODY. And I meant it.
As I was preparing to go to the office, I saw a message from a PR staff member of a European car brand sitting in my inbox.
When she called me, she asked me if I could go to Germany for a trip. Now, please understand the weight of this communiqué. Since VISOR started, I had never been invited outside of Asia. It seemed European and American trips were reserved for newspapers and magazines.
I assumed that it was a big group of journalists joining this trip. After all, the chances of a small website (such as ours) getting invited to a German test drive might depend on last-minute changes. So, who else was going?
“Just you, sir.”
Is this a prank?
Nope, she wasn’t kidding.
By the way, did you notice what time the PR staffer’s message reached me? It was 1:01pm—a minute after I had publicly acknowledged that I was nobody.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
NOTE: I sent our managing editor to the Germany assignment, his first overseas trip for our website. I told him to thank God and to be humble. Because, just like me, he is nobody.