Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. —C.S. Lewis
The opening video moment for the current teaching series at Northland includes this quote. I am glad that I’ve encountered it week after week rather than just once. It’s starting to sink in.
[If they ever post just that opening on the Media site, I’ll embed it here. If you want to see it in the meantime, visit the site and watch the opening for any of the teaching from the LOVE ONE and OTHERs series. (If you view the week titled The Arguer, the video I’m talking about starts at the 4:38 mark and runs less than one minute.)]
So, how do we learn humility? It’s certainly not a natural condition for sinful humanity.
Being “put in your place” by those in power is not generally humbling — unless one is blatantly full of one’s self. I confess that I used to wonder whether some freshmen boys needed to be stuffed into a locker by upperclassmen at least once.
Public humiliation, however, is too unpredictable to be a strategy for growing humility.
I think I’ve made the most progress toward humility (a life-long journey for this “only child”) when someone has entrusted something to me, I’ve tried but blown it, and they’ve respond to me graciously rather than critically. Facing my own inadequacy and experiencing mercy is a combination that more consistently grows me than fingers pointed at my inadequacy. Finger pointing too often moves me to a defensive posture.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for helpful critique. I’m quite convinced that we must be in relationships which are safe enough for us to hear very directly of our own sin. Accountability is critical for growth. I need to be called out when I’m intentionally or unintentionally blinded to my own wanderings. Being called out AND loved can be a powerful, transforming encounter.
I wonder how much of this is wrapped up in Paul’s teaching that we are to speak the truth in love.