I’ll admit this upfront: I see the irony in writing a post about humility and posting it on the internet for people to read.
But humility is an important topic, and one that is often misunderstood. What does it mean to be humble? Is it a quality we should strive for, or is it a sign of weakness?
There are a lot of annoying things about social media, but one of the worst offenders is the “humblebrag”. This is when someone posts a comment or picture portraying themselves in a seemingly humble situation. In reality, however, the person is seeking to draw attention to themselves. They are proud instead of being genuinely humble.
And here I am, posting all about it on social media. Oh, the irony!
True humility is not humblebragging. A humble person will not intentionally draw attention to themselves. In fact, humility is about valuing others needs and wants above your own (Philippians 2:3-4). It’s about taking a backseat to someone else. Humility takes others interest into account instead of just looking out for Number One.
This is a hard concept to swallow. We live in a self-centered culture. Humility is hard because it fights against our natural tendency toward selfish self-promotion. Striving toward humility is like trying to swim upstream. You need to work for it, and despite your best effort, you may not get very far. But if you quit swimming, you will find yourself swept away by the current in no time.
On the other hand, humility is not about beating yourself up, either. A person can be consumed by self-doubt and worry, and try to pass it off as humility. Pastors are not immune to this. Trust me. In these moments, a reminder is needed. Genuine humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. Romans 12:3 says we should look at ourselves with sober judgement. This means having an accurate understanding of who you are. The good, the bad, and the ugly all taken into account.
Imagine the difference it would make in our churches, families, and communities if we would all commit to a life of humility. Picture a community where everyone went out of their way to serve their neighbor. People weren’t only concerned about their own interests, but began to ask themselves, “What can I do to help someone else?” and “How can I make this a better place for everyone?” I think a little bit of humility would make a tremendous impact in our world.
How do we practice humility? Thankfully, we have the perfect example in Jesus. Even though Jesus was the eternal Son of God, he did not use his divine status to his own advantage. Instead, he became a person. Not only did he become like one of us, he even humbled himself to the point of becoming a servant. He was obedient to this calling even to the point of death on the cross. He humbled himself for our benefit.
In the same way, we should be willing to serve one another. We may feel entitled to certain positions. We may feel we deserve to be treated a certain way. Instead of grasping on our perceived rights, we should be willing to cast them aside in order to serve our neighbor. We should be willing to compromise our preferences in order to meet the needs of others. A humble person is willing to die to themselves in order serve another person.
That’s what Jesus did for us. Shouldn’t we be willing to follow his example?