A Humble Man

When Neil Armstrong died much was made of that awe-inspiring walk he took on the moon on July 20, 1969. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

It was Armstrong’s last mission to space. He only made two in his lifetime. The one aboard Apollo 11 and a previous one aboard Gemini 8 in 1966.

His former wife, Janet Armstrong said all that attention showered upon Neil made him uncomfortable. “He feels guilty that he got all the acclaim for an effort of tens of thousands of people,” she said.

One of which was his very own crew mate –Michael Collins, the astronaut who remained in orbit aboard the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin did their moonwalk. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been for Collins? To be the one chosen to be left behind?

Two missions, that’s all Armstrong would ever complete during his career as an astronaut. But he would go on to do other work he considered just as important, teaching at a university and serving his community. Armstrong never wanted to be remembered solely as the man who walked on the moon. 

“I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work,” he said during an interview with CBS in 2005.

Armstrong was a product of another culture, one that didn’t believe in self-promotion of any sort. A culture in which bragging about one’s self, in any form, was considered the height of rudeness. A culture in which even if people could afford better, they often chose to live in more modest homes and drive older cars, so as to not make the neighbors feel bad. Flaunting wealth or one’s success was something only the crass or simply ignorant would do.

Armstrong said that landing on the moon and looking back at earth did not make him feel like a giant among men. Instead, he said, it made him feel very, very small. He could block out the entire earth with his thumb and a wink of his eye.

Acknowledging how very, very small we are is the first step toward recognizing our position before God and the wide-open universe.


People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great. Matt 23:12



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