On being humble

Sunday, January 9, 2011
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
James 4:6

Last year as I was reading the Bible, I was really struck by how much the Lord wants us to be humble.  I read quote after quote about how God wants us to humble ourselves.  I must admit that this theme struck me more personally than any other as I read.  I kept thinking about what it means to be humble.  I realized (with some sadness and embarrassment) that I was not very humble. I talked to a few friends about it.  I am an educated woman with a broad vocabulary but I found myself looking up definitions of humble and humility. I wasn't even sure I knew what being truly humble meant. To be humble means "to have a low or modest value of one's own importance."  I wondered, "Do I really want to be humble?"  I have pretty good self-esteem and isn't that a good thing?  Being educated as a counselor, I was taught that having a sense of value of oneself is positive.

You see, I think our society today teaches us to be anything BUT humble.  I think the word humble often has a negative connotation yet it is exactly how the Lord wants us to be.  I grew up going to church every Sunday and going to religious school but I also grew up hearing messages like "You can do anything you want to do in life" and "Believe in yourself and you will succeed."  Unfortunately, as a child, I never heard, "I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

I constantly see parents encourage their kids to be the very best at everything, to "fake it until you make it", to win at all costs.  As parents, we  often "over praise" our children for every little thing they do. We get them involved in music or sports at ridiculously young ages. We do it because we love them.  We do it because somewhere along the way we have learned (and we believe) that praise and success is vital for their self esteem. So we praise them for going to the bathroom and we praise them for scribbling a picture.  As a result, people begin to believe that they are very important. Perhaps, too important.

People become "celebrities" by being on reality TV shows.  They become "important" because they have a bunch of multiples or they won a contest. Sadly, I think we have become a society that has no idea how to be humble and we certainly don't teach our children humility.  Instead, people drive around with bumper stickers boasting their honor roll kids.  I am guilty too. I do not have one of those bumper stickers but I have broadcast the accomplishments of my children on this very blog. In my everyday life, I beam with pride as they succeed.  However, I have also spent the last few months wondering how to be more humble.  I have wondered how to teach my children humility alongside confidence and a strong work ethic.  I have really pondered what exactly it means to be humble.

Today at Mass, our pastor answered this question for me.  Have you ever sat through a sermon and felt like the pastor was speaking directly to you? Well, that is how I felt today.  The priest never even mentioned being humble but he did say the the most important thing we will ever do or ever be is a child of God.  It dawned on me that THAT is being humble. Realizing that any accomplishment we make here on earth pales in comparison to being loved by God is the beginning of being humble.  No matter how important your job is or how much money you have or if you find a cure for cancer or raise amazing kids or have the most beautifully decorated home...NONE of that matters more than being loved by God. And He loves all of us.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

44 comments:

  1. Amen. This is one of the most beautiful pieces you have ever written.

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  2. I think we are all guilty of this. I know I can be. How blessed you were today at church. I thank you for sharing the verses...

    In my prayers, I will pray for continued humility for all of us - and our children.

    Big hugs...

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  3. This is beautiful, I'm printing it out for my "Mom" folder. Thanks for the reminder that anything is possible through Him. But it's all through Him.

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  4. Oh yes, Kim..I think our Priest delivered a message right for me today, and it actually made me laugh at myself.

    I also wonder about true humility. It is so countercultural to be humble, or actually live truly as a Christian. This has been a struggle for me, and one I'm just starting to overcome (with God's help).
    Tamara

    PS..I do love a nicely decorated house! LOL

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  5. Couldn't agree more! Thank you for this post. I needed it today. BTW, Philippians 4:13 is our family motto. Not a day goes by that I don't think of it. He is so awesome ALL of the time.

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  6. Kim,
    You said this so well! Thank you for speaking from your heart.

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  7. I have to say this post has really hit home for me Kim. And I agree, is beautifully written.

    Thank you.

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  8. Awesome post Kim on a hard and personal subject. There is a wonderful book that address this for our children "Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World". Great Christian perspective on cultivating humility in our children.

    One of the hardest things for me about following Christ is dying to myself everyday - putting what I want & desire behind what God wants & desires for me. Seeing others needs ahead of mine - always - with a grateful and cheerful heart, not the mind of a martyr. It underscores my need for Jesus every day - because this is certainly something I can't do in my flesh and ca only do when I allow the Holy Spirit to rule y heart, head and actions.

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  9. Amen and AMEN! I agree with Tonggu Momma ~ one of the most beautiful you have written :)

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  10. Spoken so beautifully!! I just wanted to tell you that I think you are always so humble and gracious when posting about achievements your family has made. I also think it is very humble of you to broadcast the achievements of others. (Just like you did yesterday about Shana's art.) You seem genuinely excited and proud of them, and I know God is happy for you to show that love for others!!

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  11. I am guilty of this too. I have noticed it more since we moved out of the states and into Latin America. The people we do ministry are so humble...they have nothing...and maybe it is easier to rely on God when you have nothing else. I haven't figured it all out yet but I am working on it in my personal life too. This is beautiful what you have written. Although, I will say that I don't think it's wrong to tell us about your children's accomplishments...really I don't Kim...it's okay to be a proud Momma:) Love you!

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  12. I've often thought it would be neat to do a post every Sunday that talked about what I learned at church that weekend. This post might have just given me the push I needed. Since you shared, I'll share too. Today's lesson was that we are ALL given spiritual gifts at birth- and God expects us to USE THEM, not just be aware that we HAVE them. :) Our minister even used the word humble in the sermon- talking about being humble, not boastful, about your gifts- but to also not deny having them. So if someone says, "Kim, you write such beautiful things", you are humbled by it, but you don't say, "Oh me? No! I don't write well!" God gave you a gift to write well, so you just say "Thank you", knowing God is pleased. Okay, end of sermon. :)

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  13. KIm--You are amazing!!!!--Thank you sooo much for this post --Thank you!!!! :) I needed this today! Thank you! :)

    I just love you and your heart --thank you for this post!

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  14. Thank you ..
    Amen...this is BEAUTIFUL..
    Thank you for teaching me something also..
    LOVE YOU BIG...

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  15. Beautiful post Kim.

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  16. Interesting thoughts....I know what you mean about looking up fairly common words when you are working on REALLY trying to absorb the meaning. Something to think about....

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  17. You write so beautifully. And what you say is so true. I try not to tell people about our family accomplishments because I don't want to sound like I am "bragging". And I don't ever want to sound like I am "better" than anyone else. Because I am not. Thank you for this post. I know it has helped me so much. God bless you and yours.....

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  18. Very well said and exactly what our Sunday School lesson was on today! It had a wonderul quote in it that said: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking of yourself less." This is something that we all need to strive for.

    Blessings,
    Robin

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  19. I agree with Tonggu Momma, this has to be the best piece you have ever written Kim.

    It has spoken to my heart too. Today, in Church, I listened to two men minister. One about being content with what we have. And one being grateful and thankful. And I think this goes hand in hand with humility.

    Thanks for writing this piece. Humility, thankfulness and contentment are things I am going to strive for today, this week and hopefully through the rest of my life.

    Jill

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  20. Kim - I love your humility post. You are such a great witness. It was great to see all your Christmas photos...miss you much.

    Love,
    Marianne

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  21. Great post! robin I love that quote.

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  22. My husband and I talk about this all of the time. All of us should find our confidence in the Lord and in who HE made us to be. We are nothing without Him. Unfortunately, society gives us "earthly value" based on what we do or how much money we have. None of those things matter if we don't know the Lord, enjoy Him, and surrender our lives to Him. When we realize the weight of our sin and our huge need for Him alone, then we are truly humble! Great post!

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  23. Your thoughts on Bible quotes are always so deep and well-written. This message touched me. I think it's something we can all take to heart.

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  24. I love this post. Our sermon today was from Philipians 2 12-16. It was about being servants for God. I never thought of it today as being humble, but you are right. That is what being humble is all about. Putting God first and foremost. It is so hard to teach your kids to be humble. Last week the sermon was Philippians 2 3-4. Our pastor related it to marriage. If we not only look at our own interests, but our spouses interests we would have better marriages. Thanks for your thoughts today!

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  25. wonderful post....although my Bible journey has just begun, I am at peace already knowing that I am doing what is pleasing to the Lord.

    I can see your change as I have told you before....it is truly lovely! ;)

    Hugs,
    Steffie

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  26. Well said and I couldn't agree more. Narcissism is becoming such a fault in our society.
    I think we can all be a little more humble, thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post Kim. Sometimes I have a hard time blogging because I don't want to come across as boasting. So true about instilling it in our children, "with God" anything is possible.

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  27. A very thought provoking post Kim. So beautifully written and so true. It's a good reminder for all of us.

    Have a wonderful week. Hope you are feeling better.

    xo,

    Lisa

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  28. Love, love, LOVE this post, Kim!
    God has been impressing this on my heart as well for months. As I was reading through Numbers, God opened my eyes to see exactly how much He LOVED Moses. And why? Moses wasn't especially talented, or even well spoken. But God says of Moses, "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth."
    THIS is why God loved him so, and why God chose HIM to lead His people out of Egypt.
    Simply amazing.
    We, as a society, not only fail to recognize humility as a quality, we consider it a weakness. Obviously, God does not agree :) I am SO thankful for His Word... it is His love letter to us!
    LOVE this, Kim! Thank you for your insight, God is clearly at work in your heart!!
    Hugs!

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  29. yay! I love this post - it might be my favorite of yours. ever.

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  30. Very well written Kim. Over the past few years I have learned that "humility and humbling" myself has got me thru some hurdles and hoops that my "big ego" sometimes had to re-adjust and "fit thru". I think we all have "been there...done that" in one fashion or another. The great thing about it is, I "appreciate" that "adjustment" in my life. I still have lots to learn, but I thank God for each humbling experience along the way! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  31. Kim,
    I have really struggled with this too, making sure I have met all my kids needs and making them feel that they are the most important things to me. When we were praying about bringing Madeline home I worried about the effect this journey could have on our other children (good and bad, sad as that is to admit) My sister said" there is no better way to teach your children that it is not all about them, the most important thing to teach them is to serve our Lord, not ourselves". Those words taught me soooo much humility and the true importance of our life here on earth. Thank you for your post today and reminding me of this!!!!!

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  32. Beautiful post spoken from the heart. Much for all of us to contemplate. Thanks for sharing your wise interior thoughts.

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  33. Kim,
    It is very interesting that you wrote this. I was laid off in November from a pretty "important" position in which I defined myself. I used to brag about the meetings I would be able to land and the people I would meet. When I was laid off, it felt the rug was pulled out from under me. Who was I if I wasn't successful with my job? I had to really come to grips that first and foremost, I am God's child and the only way I can be truly fulfilled is by honoring Him. Sooo, interestingly enough, my first criteria in my job search is "is this a job that will bring glory to God? Is this a job where I can do God's work?" I actually turned DOWN a very well paying job in which it would be too much travel and it would again be living to work and not the other way around. I have learned to not live in excess (which I realized holy cow...how much I spend at Lilly Pulitzer and going out to dinner!) and focus on the simple things. By living more humbly, personally, I found great joy. It's very hard to do in this world, that is for sure!

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  34. This is really a lovely post, and something I've thought about lately, too. It really goes up against everything society tells us. I think to be truly humble is to know your worth as a child of God, yet choose to submit to others out of Christian love. All the glory should really go to God, not ourselves.

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  35. It is those kind days at church that I feel happen for a reason. I find that answer to be so reassuring, because I could have agreed with you more. Finding a balance between humility and confidence is quite challenging for an adult and trying to that message to a child is very difficult. I feel like the best thing you can do is provide you child with as many opportunities to learn the importance and difference between both...everything is a learning experience! :)

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  36. Great message....

    Much love,
    Future Mama
    http://expectingablessing.blogspot.com/

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  37. Thank you for the comment, advice, and prayers...we are excited, and we are certainly going to need it!!

    Have a wonderful evening,
    Much love,
    Future Mama
    http://expectingablessing.blogspot.com/

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  38. this gives me a lot to chew on

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  39. Kim, awesome post....Isn't it cool, when you finally "get" something and then the Lord confirms it and shows you how to apply it! Just awesome!
    Your growing in the word so much and its so exciting to watch and makes me want to study more too!
    Thank you! The Lord is using you my sweet friend.
    Norah

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  40. Kim this is one of my all time favorite post!!!! So beautifully written!!!! Thank you : )
    {{{hug}}}
    Hope you are feeling better and are having a good week.
    ~Colleen

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  41. Kim,
    I love this post. A humble child of God wrote it!

    Love you!
    Di

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  42. Amen DI! I love her comment!! And I adore this post. I tried to comment the other night and was not able to, I came back just so I could leave a comment of encouragement. There is not a one of us that doesn't need this rich and valuable reminder of His will for our lives...More of Him, less of me. One of my favorite praise songs, but also a lifechanging promise to myself that He will be far more important than my will, SO HARD! And many days, I simply do not meet the mark, but I keep meeting Him and remarkably, He offers me grace...it is a beautiful thing. Thank you so much for writing this! Thank you for the beautiful woman God made you to be!

    Love,
    Heather

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Thank you for your kindness.