I love humility.
At least, I love thinking about humility. I seem to be drawn to it. I’ve blogged about whether humility and confidence are opposites, and what Jesus meant when He called himself humble and gentle. I’ve often shared my favorite C.S. Lewis quote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
I love that definition of humility.
The thing is, thinking about humility is a lot different than practicing humility. And when God wants to teach us humility, watch out.
One year, I actually prayed that God would help me be more humble. Seriously, I really was crazy enough to ask God to do that. (By the way, I don’t recommend praying something like that if you want to have an easy year.)
Humility is easy to talk about, but difficult to cultivate. It seems to require a rough road.
I told someone recently that I was feeling humbled. And the road hasn't even been all that rough. It has just been new. New schedule, new routines, new job. All that new makes me something I hate being: needy. I need help. There is so much I do not know. So much I am trying to figure out. And as a result, I have been asking for help. What feels to me like too much help.
Needing help humbles me.
I think that's true of most of us. I see it in the Old Testament, when God wanted the Israelites to learn humility. Humility is why God brought them through the wilderness.
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” – Deuteronomy 8:2-5
The wilderness made the Israelites needy. They became dependent on God in a way they had not been before. This was exactly what God wanted.
Humility means understanding that our independence has limits. Humility means understanding that God is God and we are not. Humility means kneeling before the God who lifts us back up.
This neediness I have had lately? It has reminded me how I have neglected the manna of God's Word. It has helped me see once again the brokenness of my own heart and how I often value looking good to others more than being real with them. It has brought me back to a place of dependence on God at at time I was drifting away into self-reliance.
I still don't love seasons like this. But I value them. Humbling experiences are faith-building experiences. So, I will try to embrace this neediness. I just hope it takes me less than 40 years to learn my lesson...
How would you define humility? How has it been cultivated in your life?