In the spirit of St. Francis during this Lenten season, the first characteristic that comes to mind was his humility, that was shared with the likes of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, and for you sports fans: Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner and Tim Duncan. The common thread of each of these leaders seems to be the willingness to put others before themselves as shown by treating everyone with respect, recognizing their value and accepting a life without entitlement. A humble person is a modest person. It is someone who does not brag whether it be about their talents, abilities, possessions or accomplishments, but one who uses these gifts that God has given to lift up others. Humbleness is an attitude of submission and surrender to God’s will to serve others, especially the poor and the sick. In Romans 12:1-21 states, “Offer up your gifts to the Lord and serve with a heart of surrender and sacrifice to God’s ways.”
So let’s discuss what “humility” is and isn’t. Humility is not low self-esteem or feelings of inferiority. Humility is not prideful and does not focus on ourselves. Humility is the exact opposite of pride and arrogance.
Authentic humility means living in truth with an accurate view of ourselves without the pretentiousness of something we aren’t. St. Augustine said, “all humility consists in knowing yourself”. It is characterized by us not needing to compare ourselves to others or trying to impress by keeping up with the Joneses. Humility embraces gratefulness, contentment and simplicity. Humble people don’t have an urgent need for praise or recognition, because they know who they are and they know their worth.
In Christian tradition, humility is about centering our lives on God and not ourselves. It means that we realize we are not the center of the universe and the world does not revolve around us. According to C.S. Lewis, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
So what does the Bible say about humility?
- Humility means submission, but not bowing down to others.
1Peter 5:5-6, “Be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
- Humility does not mean we have to be silent or passive.
God wants us Christians to have a gentle and quiet spirit so that we can hear His spirit speaking to our hearts. But there are times when God wants us to be bold and speak up before others.
- A humble person is open to a deep relationship with God.
Pride elevates self over God. Pride leads us to worship the idols of control, money power and vanity. In other words, false gods.
- A humble person is filled with gratitude for what they have.
The “I want more mindset” never stops to realize that they have it already. But it’s never enough. The thinking should be, I am grateful that I have enough. Humility recognizes that we own nothing. All is a gift from God and we should be profoundly grateful.
I can not say in all honesty that I am a humble person. I am still a work in progress on my way to humility. What I can say, is that I have come a long way. I am grateful that with age has come wisdom and accountability. Possessions are not important to me anymore. I am grateful and accepting of what I have and don’t have. I now place a higher value on my close relationships with family, especially my grandchildren, and friends far above material things. My desire now is to do His will by serving and walking in His grace so that He continues to transform me and make me humble in heart and actions.