Humbleness is defined as the modest view one takes about their own importance. It comes from within a person, which reflects a mindset that one adopts to display this trait. Sometimes we hear someone recount a humbling experience that they had. They feel that way because they did not think that they deserve that experience but are grateful that they had the opportunity to have experienced it.
Humility is not a weakness. Recognizing the reality of your interdependence as a human being is not a weakness. You are recognizing the reality of your situation and crediting the influence the community has on you.
The expression of humility is not the same as cowardice. Humility puts others ahead of you, which is a courageous thing to do. It is a bold move for one to think about others more than yourself. It takes courage to not look after only your interests in things that you do. You require a higher power to demonstrate this virtue in your life.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis
As you can see, being humble is not a natural part of many cultures. The popular philosophy of taking care of yourself is admired as a necessity and a requisite for success. But what place does humility hold in such a philosophy? What does the Bible say about humility and the role it should play in our lives?
I would like to make three distinct comparisons between the world’s popular culture and compare it to how humility will answer those ideals.
Humility is selfless when the world says be assertive
Assertiveness is the ability to show confidence and a forceful personality. Being assertive is celebrated as an essential quality to have as it relates to standing up for yourself, holding your own, and claiming what you think is rightfully yours.
When used in moderation, assertiveness helps you to share your opinion and be heard. Combining assertiveness with communication skills such as making eye contact, listening carefully before speaking, maintaining a positive body posture, and thinking before speaking ensures that you are respectfully assertive.
As it is true with everything, an overdose of assertiveness stands opposite to humility when taken to the extreme. Humility ensures that you think about the person or the people in front of you. You are not thinking only about yourself in the conversation. Your rights, even though they are important, you are working to understand the person in front of you.
Jesus demonstrated the perfect selfless attitude. Even though He knew Judas was going to deceive Him, Jesus did not show resentment or anger but only care for his salvation. Jesus was not keen on revenge when he meets Peter after his resurrection, not a word about Peter’s betrayal. Jesus was keen on keeping his promise of using Peter as the rock on which He will build His church.
If Jesus focused on being assertive, he would have placed importance on the mistakes others made and how that infringed on His rights, how that is unfair to Him, how that has made Jesus feel, and so on. But we see Jesus cares about Peter more than Himself. You can be sure Jesus would have dealt the same way with Judas had he not taken his own life.
What does being selfless mean to you? What lesson do you take away from the way Jesus demonstrated selfless humility, even if it meant His personal rights were infringed? How would being selfless look in your life today?
Humility is sacrificial when the world is combative
In today’s age, where technology has given everyone a platform to share their opinion, the urge to take the most controversial stand so that one can stand out from the crowd has overtaken many a people. Such an approach has given rise to a culture where one is expected to be combative.
The word combative is used to describe aggressive behavior, where a person is ready or inclined to fight their stance. The intention is to defend the position they have taken at all cost, and such conduct leaves no room for any other opinion. It’s my way of the highway approach brings more division and separation than anything else.
Humility, on the other hand, is sacrificial, meaning your action are for a higher purpose. You are willing to meet the people in their current state and work hard to understand them. A genuine effort made on your part to understand and meet the need of the person you disagree with is a higher calling. I agree it is easier said than done. A lot of time out is required to make any progress.
A combative nature is born when emotion is mixed with opinion. I have to say that I need to be heard, I have remained patient for long enough, and I am not a doormat. I will not stay silent anymore. All of these sentences being with me and focuses on what is important to you. This line of reasoning is proper when you are thinking about defending your position and not when you are in self-sacrificing mode.
Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The crowd said, you said this, you said that you said you will do this and that, but Jesus remained silent. His purpose was higher than what was happening at that moment. Jesus did not focus on defending Himself. His intention was not to prove that He was right or that Jesus was who He said He was, but He let His actions speak for Himself.
Jesus on the cross is a source of worship, a source of inspiration, a source of hope, and much more because of How Jesus focused on humble sacrifice rather than being combative and responding to the actions or opinions of others.
What does sacrifice mean to you? What lessons can we learn from Jesus regarding the humbleness that He demonstrated on the cross? How do we practice sacrificial humility when the world around us demonstrates combativeness?
Humility is about service when the world is about winning at all costs
We live in a world where making a profit has become the primary focus of almost all businesses. We will sell it to you even though we know the product is not good for you in the long run. The profit in the present is more important than the lawsuit that may come later seems to be the thinking among some major companies.
The attitude is not limited to corporations; it is now the anthem of many individuals as well. I will cut you down if I can get ahead of you is the way people deal with each other. The result of this attitude is backstabbing, under-cutting, holding back full potential and actual ability.
‘A service is any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another, which is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product.’ – Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders, and Wong
A service is an act of humility as you are seeking the benefit of another. It is their need, interest, well-being, and experience that comes before your profit or agenda.
Again, we look at the life of Jesus to learn how service is supposed to look like in life. Philippians 2: 7 says “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”
the NIV says, “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”,
the NLT says, “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,”,
the ESV says, “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
the Good News says, “Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness.”
These translations give us an idea of what the ultimate form of service means. We can begin to understand what the golden rule means: To do for others what you will want them to do for you. How can you add value to the people around you? How can you add value to your family, at work, with your friends?
What does add value mean? Instead of just doing only your job, you are thinking about creating a memorable experience. The experience goes above the standard requirement.
I watched a short story where a rich man enters an old restaurant run by an elderly lady and intends to buy the property because it is in a prime location. The lady asks this man to sit and have a meal. She provides a generous serving of food for the price he pays, and he is surprised that the lady gives a drink and some salad for free with the food. The rich man is surprised and enquires how much profit does the lady makes?
The lady replies, pointing to different clients eating there; I helped him buy and pay for a taxi. I helped her pay for her child’s education, and she goes on listing a few more things that she was indirectly able to accomplish because she is serving food at a reasonable cost. That what the service looks like. It is not what you can get but what others can do as a result of the service you are providing.
Being humble is a core value that each of us should practice. Humility is selfless, it is sacrificial, and it is about service. Is humility a core value of yours?