Recently our staff spent a day away for some contemplation and reflection – something I highly recommend. We spent some time together around “The Practice of Humility” adapted from The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Humble people let go of image management and self-promotion. They honor others by making others’ needs as real and important as their own.
“Personas and the false self are cobbled together by identifying with the grandiosity of secondary things. It is easy to tell when the false self is in place, because it is always afraid of looking little and inadequate … A true Christ-in-me self is deeply at home in God and in its own skin. Such a self humbly receives its identity as a gift and feels no need to justify its existence. The mirror of public response doesn’t matter… Jesus is the consummate example of humility and greatness. Jonathan Edwards put it well when he suggested that even though Christ is infinitely greater than us, he is also infinitely more humble.” The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
In the sixth century St. Benedict developed a twelve step ladder for growing in humility. Here is an adaptation by Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
Step 8: Transformation into the love of God. (No haughtiness, sarcasm; able to embrace our limits and those of others.)
Step 7: Speaking less (“the wise are known for their few words.”)
Step 6: Deeply aware of being “chief of sinners” (We see ourselves as potentially weaker and more sinful than anyone around us.)
Step 5: Radically honesty to others about your weaknesses/faults. (We quit pretending to be something we are not.)
Step 4: Patience to accept the difficulty of others (Give others grace and chance to figure out their weakness in their own way and time.)
Step 3: Willing to subject ourselves to the direction of others (We are free to up our arrogance and are open to accepting God’s will as it comes through others.)
Step 2: Doing God’s will (not our own or others); surrendering our self-will to God.
Step 1: Fear of God and mindfulness of Him (We often forget the presence of God, acting as if He were not present.)
Practically speaking, humility means refraining from image management. Deliberately keeping silent about accomplishments and talents. Refusing the impulse to name drop. Backing away from the center of attention – drawing others out. Avoiding favoritism.
Matthew 6:1, 4 (God’s Word Translation) “Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. Give your contributions privately. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.”