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The Virtuous Life: Humility

I’m pretty much the most humble person in the world, and I can show you the trophy that I had made so that people would know about my accomplishments in the field of humility.  Actually, like many people, humility and I have a complicated relationship.  I think that most people would regard themselves as fairly humble, and they may be right if we narrowly define humility as the absence of constant self-promotion.  When we expand the definition, however, we probably don’t score quite as high on the humility index.

What does it mean to be humble?  A Biblical answer can be found in Philippians 2:3-4 which reads “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Selflessness. Sacrifice. Respect. Concern for others.

A significant part of humility is the ability to put other’s needs above your own.  You serve without expecting anything in return.  You experience inconvenience in order to meet someone’s needs.  You take your eyes off of yourself and your situation and seek the welfare of someone else.  I don’t think that this comes naturally.  Our natural tendency is to look out for ourselves, and we can see this tendency towards selfishness in our jobs, marriages, friendships, and in our parenting.

So how do we pursue a life of humility?  First, we need to have a better understanding of who we are.  We need to resist the urge to believe that the world ought to revolve around us.  Second, we need to begin to look around to see who we might serve.  We are surrounded by so many people whose lives we could impact if only we were aware of their needs.  Third, we need to begin making those small choices for the benefit of others.  Maybe we need to begin to invest in someone we can mentor.  Perhaps we have some resources we can share that would mean the world to someone.  Eventually, these small steps can lead to a life characterized by humility which in turn will look like a life inspired by our Savior who served as the ultimate picture of humility.

Published inA Virtuous Life