Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Humility and Humiliation

One of the greatest virtues of Christianity and of society is that of being humble, and generally exemplifying humility. Recently the idea of being humble and what it is to be humble has been on my mind. There is a lot to unpack in this age-old concept. My go-to vision for humility is an image something like this:
I will note that most everything in my ego does not want to identify with this picture. I would rather be perceived like something more along these lines:

What is it to experience genuine humility and why is it so important in faith?
I looked up the concept of humility and below is a great Wikipedia article on the idea. Here is the link:
What I learned from this article is:
1)      Humility is a major theme played out in every major world religion. In most every religion humility is linked with being close to God
2)      Humility is not self-deprecating
3)      Truth without Humility is Doomed
 Here also is one of the major sections the bible points to on Humility in Philipians 2:
My recent personal definition of Humility
Humility- to admit what has control over you and recognize how it limits you

I think knowing true humility for me often requires an experience of being humiliated. Being humiliated is that gut realization of “shoot, I do not have it all figured out” and then being embarrassed for it. I think sometimes it takes full blown humiliation sometimes for my pride to be truly shaken.
I am still exploring this concept and hope to write again on it in a couple of weeks. For now, I would love individuals who are inspiring to share- what does humility mean to you? How does it tie to faith? Genuity? Truth? Humiliation?


  1. Hi Kelsie,
    Humility, for me, means the wonderful knowledge that I am so important to God, but no more important than any one else in this world. It is to realize that I am not in the center of the world, that I am part of God's greater plan, that I am one of many of God's fine instruments. It brings me peace when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, it is a helpful reminder for me not to take myself, or life too seriously and to laugh and enjoy the simple, beautiful things that are in themselves fairly humble and also extraordinary. The perspective of being humble helps me to see and find miracles everywhere. I find that when I feel self-important then I am not much good to those around me. In humility I can truly love and identify with others, and I am approachable instead of someone who "appears" to have it all together, which none of us has!
    Experiencing humility is directly tied to my faith, as it allows me to bask in the knowledge that I am not the maker of my destiny, that God has a plan, that he and I together will work it out, and that He is the great artist and I can be a helpful instrument. Through prayer and being humble, I am able to make the most of each day, attempting to let go and let God!
    Love, Erika

  2. Humility entails the understanding that even the best that is within us, our gifts and talents and resources, are gifted to us from God. They are given to us to be useful for others, to be used in service, not in self-aggrandizement. Christ humbled himself and took upon himself the form of a servant, and that is our model as Christ followers ... no matter what our station in life. The world tells us to sell ourselves, self-promote, be assertive - and the consequence is that many people are only willing to present their winning side to others. But humility is synonymous with teachability; if we have it all together and are self-sufficient, there is not much room to be teachable.
    St. Augustine wrote, "If you want to build a tower of virtue, you must start with a foundation of humility." A humble person is willing to learn, has a perception that she is important to God but no more so than any other person. The opposite of humility is pride and selfishness.
    I think there is a big difference between the trait of humility and the suffering of humiliation. I think we "gain humility" whereas in humiliation we are helpless and have no choice. Humiliation is a cup half empty, humility is a cup half full.

  3. Hi Kelsie,

    Humility for me brings to mind a line from a quote by Arundhati Roy, one of my favorite authors. She writes: “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away."

    To me humility is the recognition of responsibility and our role in the world--what Roy refers to as "our own insignificance". Humility is having the bravery to give up certain convinces and comforts in an effort to maintain a more sustainable lifestyle than what the American way of living presents. Humility to me is having the patience to pause in my personal pursuits, to meditate on what God is trying to tell me, and to trust that He knows what's best for me.

    Humility to me is a silence--crisp, clean, and at times impossible to obtain--in which I can connect with my faith and follow its direction. I like to think of humility as a force powerful enough to overcome the chaos of the conflict, influences, and pressures that so often surround us, if only we have the patience to let it linger.