Most who know me well know that I am not a passive person. Those who know me even better know that I can sometimes be what I prefer to call “overly assertive” (not to be confused with aggressive).
The chapter of life I find myself in today and recently could easily be entitled, “Humility (sucks).” I’m being tested from every angle. I’ve probably always been tested repeatedly and probably repeatedly failed. Now I’m just more aware.
Perhaps we should take a step back before I get too far ahead of myself, and let’s define humility.
Our reliable friend, Webster, defines humility as “freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble.” The term “freedom” is significant here. Do you get offended easily? Are you embarrassed easily? Do you always have to have the last word? That’s pride, and it’s a trap. Imagine if you didn’t snap back when your significant other made a harmless comment that rubbed you the wrong way. Imagine if you truly didn’t care if others saw you fall flat on your face (literally or figuratively) or knew your dirty little secrets. Imagine if you walked away instead of getting in that last burn. FREEDOM. This article from OurEverydayLife further explains the point about freedom in humility as well as other benefits of acquiring the virtue.
Some of you may not share my faith or believe in scripture, but the Bible also has A LOT to say about being humble, so it must be pretty important:
Proverbs 3:34 says, “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.”
Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O Mortal, what is good. And what does the lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
The list could go on an on. In a nutshell, pride is bad, humility is good. Pride comes with mockery and disgrace; humility comes with favor and wisdom. Whether you care about scripture or not, the benefits of humility are real. Forbes lists 17 benefits of humility. I won’t list them all here, but here are the 5 that stood out to me most as a director: it allows you to learn; it magnifies your strengths; it helps others connect with and relate to you; it empowers others to lead; and it earns you admiration and respect. Any leader, whether of a company, a family, or a small army of cats, can benefit from practicing humility.
While you may know what humility is, you might be wondering what it looks like, and how to apply it in everyday life. Here are 7 ways to show humility on a daily basis:
1. Apologize without defending yourself.
The worst apologies are those that are followed with “but…” “I’m sorry, but…” “I want to apologize, but…” Or any form of expressing an excuse for the wrongful behavior. We want to explain ourselves so the other person understands where we’re coming from, but the importance of the apology is to demonstrate remorse for one’s behavior or actions. Accept responsibility, correct if you can, and do your best not to let it happen again. I recently received an apology I did not expect, and it was the best! This person had been so rude to me, but days later, approached me face to face, sincerely apologized for her behavior, gave no excuses, and asked for my forgiveness. Wow. So simple and so appreciated.
2. Don’t boast about your strengths.
This doesn’t mean you should hide your strengths or that you can’t accept a compliment. It simply means you would do well to not draw attention to yourself to gain praise. And if you don’t get the compliment, you don’t get the compliment. Instead, give compliments. If you do get a compliment, a simple, humble response is, “thank you.” You could also express how you couldn’t have accomplished what you did without the help you received, sharing credit with others who had a hand in your achievement. But if you really did it all alone, simply thank the person/people for the compliment.
3. Shut up and listen (watch for a blog post with this title!)
We all know those people who love the sound of their own voice. Or those people who already have their response and are just waiting for a break in the conversation or argument to spit it out. Raise your hand if you’re one of those people. Yep, we could stand to demonstrate a little humility from time to time. By truly listening to another person rather than forming your next sentence, you allow them the freedom to express their thoughts and opinions and allowing yourself to gain understanding, which leads to relationship-building. Take it from the relationship queen.
Just kidding. I AM NOT A RELATIONSHIP QUEEN.
4. Recognize your faults.
LifeHacks points out that we sometimes judge others for their faults when we may not be aware of our own. Furthermore, scripture asks, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the spec out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye'” (Matthew 7:4)? I believe we are ALL guilty of judging, whether we realize it or not. Self-awareness isn’t easy for everyone, but it’s crucial in all healthy relationships, at work and home, that we recognize and admit our faults, taking responsibility when our actions affect others.
5. Don’t demand what you think you deserve.
I attended a service at a local church recently during which the minister preached against demanding what we believe we deserve. A raise, respect, an apology, credit, whatever it is you think you’re entitled to or have earned, the humble response is to wait and let it come naturally. You may never get what you think you deserve, even if you ask for it, but to demand it is an expression of pride, which we’ve already described in unfavorable terms.
For some reason, humility doesn’t come naturally to most people, which I guess is why it’s mentioned so much in the Bible. And it’s HARD. It takes self-awareness and conscious effort to become a humble person. And then you can’t even boast about achieving humility! What gives!? But the freedom and wisdom it brings are invaluable. This chapter of my life is a challenging one, one I want to skip. But the benefits of humility are far greater than the consequences of pride. With self-awareness and conscious effort in my toolbox, I’m hoping to see quality gains in my relationships.
BUT I WANT TO ARGUE SO BAD!
Let’s show some encouragement to each other in the comments below! What are your experiences with humility and how has it benefited your life?