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Mark Batterson: Holy Embarrassment

My most recent embarrassing moment? Listen, it’s no fun getting a phone call at one o’clock in the afternoon asking you why you aren’t at the wedding you’re supposed to be officiating that was supposed to start at noon. I flat out forgot. I was at the mall, in a dressing room, trying on clothes. I had to get home, shower, put on a suit, and drive forty-five minutes through a snowstorm to get there. I finally arrived at three o’clock. My ego never did show up.

Embarrassing moments are horrible, no doubt. But they are also wonderful. Few things are as freeing as a little embarrassment. It frees us from the burden of pretense, and it forces us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. In a sense, embarrassment is one way we die to self. And dying to self is one way we come to life.

The words humor, humiliation, and humility are all etymologically related. In fact, humor is a derivative of humiliation. One dimension of humility is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and I’m convinced that the happiest, healthiest, and holiest people on the planet are those who laugh at themselves the most.

Too many people live as if the purpose of life is to avoid embarrassment at all costs. They never put themselves in situations that might be awkward. So they forfeit joy. They never reveal who they really are. So they forfeit intimacy. They never take risks. So they forfeit opportunity. They try to avoid embarrassment at all cost, and the cost is their soul. Or should I say, their soulprint.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and embarrass yourself by doing something stupid. And I’m certainly not encouraging embarrassment that is the byproduct of social cluelessness. But too often, we allow the fear of embarrassment to get between God and us. We’re too embarrassed to share our faith or confront a friend or walk away from a sinful situation. But if embarrassment is the result of doing something right, it’s holy embarrassment. And there are certain situations where embarrassment is the only way you can remain true to God and to yourself. It’s either embarrassment or hypocrisy, embarrassment or sin, embarrassment or obedience. In those situations, embarrassment isn’t something to be avoided. In fact, if we follow the example set by David, it is something to be cultivated and celebrated.

I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

II Samuel 6:22

Excerpted from Soulprint by Mark Batterson Copyright (c) 2011 by Mark Batterson. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. 

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Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a multi-site church and a leading fellowship in the nation’s capital. Meeting in movie theaters and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area, NCC is attended by more than 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Mark’s weekly podcast is one of the fastest growing in America. His book, In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars peaked at #44 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. He has just released his newest book entitled, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God. He and his wife Lora live on Capitol Hill. They have three children.