Some thoughts on Humility…
I had a conversation today with a good friend who was approaching the subject of humility pretty standardly. My brain shouted, maybe there is something else going on here. It there another angle to approach the idea of humility? What is it really? How did Christ do humility? So here is my stream of conscience…
What kind of “humility-ies” are there?
False humility — Negative humility — No humility = Pride & arrogance
On top of this what does it really mean to actually be humble?
“He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death…” Philippians 2:8
HUMBLE - - - * having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance. * of low social, administrative, or political rank: she came from a humble, unprivileged background. * of modest pretensions or dimensions.
Those are from the dictionary. I think the first definition is on track to what i’m thinking but not fully. Humility is to not think of oneself as too good or above. Maybe to not think things are beneath you. But the inverse is also true, to not think things are above you is an aspect of humility, although not as clearly in the common definition.
So let’s dig in…
It doesn’t seem like true humility is a lack of confidence or something along those lines. Rather, maybe it’s closer to an acute awareness of ones actual self, who you really are, your true self as Richard Rohr might say. Then, living so confidently in that true self that you can can serve and even die for that which you believe or feel called to because you are not better or you are not unqualified to fully live into your true self and your true calling.
There is an aspect of humility that is being OK with taking on a lower position than you might actually be worthy of or could occupy normally but it’s the confidence in ones true self, that what you do, even if its dying, won’t affect who your are, your actual worth that intrigues me about the humble heart.
Some times one needs to be humbled. Might this be because the heart is fighting for a higher, more prestigious place instead of being ok and finding joy and confidence in the true self? When you serve and / or when you are lead, which for the humble — the ultimately confident one, might be close to the same thing, you are confident, ok in who you are and the position you find yourself in… you are humble.
So the inverse could also be true. The one who lacks confidence and does nothing but work in lowly positions isn’t necessarily humble. They may to need to be humbled. To take on or be given a higher position, realizing their confidence comes from who they really are. To be leading / serving those whom you might feel inadequate to lead / serve is to be humbled by the grace and provision of a God who desire for you to be ultimately confident in who he has created for you to be and the opportunities he has given you. No matter the circumstances. For one to say, as they receive an award, “It is humbling to be given this award in a room of my most talented peers,” may be experiencing this very kind of acceding humility. For that humility to be honest and not empty there must be a step into confidence and also an avoidance of pride. At least for “humble” to be the word we use for this story.
I think Jesus was so ultimately confident in who he was, in his true self that he could lead without arrogance and he could serve, even die without grasping to his rights and privileges. Maybe this is the snapshot of of biblical, christological humility. An ultimately confident self, not swayed to maintain or grasp for power and prestige or live below who he was created to be, the crucified one.
I don’t know, just some thoughts. I’ve always wanted to be humble in the way Jesus was humble. But there always seemed to be something dishonest about hanging my head low and saying “oh, it’s nothing” or “oh, you know, it wasn't me, it was God” or something like that when i was complimented for something i did well. The most honest thing i have found to do is to humbly saying thank you. I am not ultimately confident in my self or even in who God has made me to be but my hope is that I am on a journey of learning the art of living, living as my true self and confident in that because it’s who God has created me to be.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I think Richard Rohr audio teaching entitled The Art of Letting Go would be a great connection to this conversation and idea. Check it out on Audible.