Photo credit: Tonya Brandt
I heard a story once about a woman who was deeply moved during worship and went to thank the worship leader after the service. She complimented the worship leader who responded “It was all Jesus!” The woman paused a moment and then said to the worship leader, “Oh no. It would have been MUCH better if it was Jesus!” We are all called to practice the character trait of humility as Christians but some of us have a false idea of what it means to be humble.
The secular dictionary defines humility as “a modest or low view of one’s importance.” Another definition is “the opposite of pride.” That is certainly an important aspect, but humility means much more to us as Christians. Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God. It is perfectly reflected in God the Son becoming human, submitting to the will of the Father and serving all humanity through the sacrifice of His life. We are called to serve others.
In The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren sums up humility very clearly: “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!”
C. S. Lewis said this about humility: “ Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself LESS.”
The Bible is full of God’s instruction on humility. It paints a very clear picture of how to live our lives in humility, and how NOT to live our lives in humility.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5 NIV)
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18:12 NIV)
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4 NIV)
Our Christian character is the best way to evangelize in today’s world. When non-believers around us see our testimony as we act and speak with a heart full of humility, they stand up and listen. Humility is one of the building block foundations of our Christian character. St. Augustine said “If you plan to build a tall house of virtues, you must first lay deep foundations of humility.”
Several months ago, we asked the volunteers of Restoring Lives International to describe what humility looks like when practiced in the ministry. Here are some of the most popular responses.
A person with a humble heart:
1. Is willing to do any job he/she is asked to do, whether speaking on the stage or cleaning the bathrooms after a service.
2. Has a servant attitude.
3. Apologizes and asks forgiveness when he/she has wronged someone.
4. Does not blow his/her own horn, but sings the praises of others.
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2 NIV)
5. Understands that all we do is through the power of God and not our own power.
6. Is not self-centered, but is others-centered and puts others’ wishes above his/her own.
7. Listens to others instead of interrupting to share his/her own thoughts.
8. Steps back and allows others to shine.
9. Does not take credit but instead gives credit to others on the team.
For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 14:11 NIV)
10. Admits to a mistake without making excuses and blaming someone else.
How would you define humility? Would those around you describe you as humble? Good questions worth pondering!