I don’t recall who said it at the moment, but I will never forget these words: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less.”
One of the most difficult attributes of our character to train is humility. In some ways, humility runs counter to our natural tendencies. The natural instinct to preserve ourselves is not only good but is necessary in order to live in this world. One of the problems is the tension that exists between protecting our lives and not allowing our ego to make us the center of the universe. Whether that be in our own minds or in the relationships we have with others.
Of the many challenges that exist in the Christian life learning to follow Christ in his example of humility is one of the greatest. There are several reasons for this. The first of which is we find ourselves comparing ourselves to Jesus. And while there is some sense in which this is the right approach, this can also lead to a certain kind of despair and disappointment in our failure to live up to his example.
One of the realizations that I’ve made in recent years, is that we should look to the lives of the disciples as it relates to our ability to fulfill Christ’s example to us. What do I mean by this? I mean that if the disciples, with all of their struggles and failures, could become such powerful instruments in the proclamation of the gospel then there is hope for us today.
It is in serving without any desire for compensation that we see how deeply the humility of Christ has penetrated our lives.Tweet
This may seem to be somewhat simplistic but I don’t think so. And here’s why. If the requirement of becoming humble is to be Jesus then we will all fail. But if what Jesus taught those initial disciples can be re-taught to us there is hope that we can become the kinds of disciples that reflect Christ’s humility in the world.
The older I get the more convinced I become that what humility is, is not what I think it is. Too often we think of humility as requiring a humiliation of who we are. But this is not what Jesus requires of us. Jesus is not calling us to distort or destroy the image of God within us. He is called us to look at those around us and to uplift the image of God in them. This may seem like a minor difference, but I find it to be a difference of eternal significance.
When we make serving others the guide for how we will measure our growth in humility, we will see those places in our lives where we struggle to be like Christ. It is in serving without any desire for compensation that we see how deeply the humility of Christ has penetrated our lives. This is not to say there will not be days when we find ourselves struggling to be humble. It just means if there are more days we find serving others fulfilling and natural we can say we have learned what it means to be humble. Even as we continue to grow in humility.
The season of Lent is a season of reflection. It is a time when we stop and look at those areas of life that require attention. And when we compare not only ourselves to Christ but also to the example of the disciples, we can learn the lesson of living a Christ-like example in a world that trends toward seeking only its own selfish ambitions.
I would like to encourage you to not feel as though you have failed to live up to the call of Christ to be humble. Rather, it would be better to strive to embody and perform a deeper service to those around us. In our serving, we will learn who we are becoming. And we will also find ourselves awakened to those places where Christ must continue to grow in us.