If pride is all about feeding the self's ego most of all, then humility is about feeding the self's ego least of all. To be humble, we cannot think about ourselves all the time. As C. S. Lewis rightly points out, being humble means we think of ourselves LESS. Not LESSER, but LESS. A humble person doesn't require praise from others, rather they're focused on building up others instead (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
When we're self-consciously worried about what others think or seeking others' approval, that's not being humble. That's looking for the food of pride for our egos. Remember, being humble doesn't mean we're down ourselves; rather, we don't need constant ego-feeding through external praise. Being humble means that you are free to build others up, rather than needing a constant ego boost.
A truly humble person is unlikely to publicly acknowledge their humility. If someone claims, “I'm the most humble person ever because I did such-in-such,” then they're actually exhibiting pride rather than humility. Once a person has declared their "achievement" in humility, they have already shown they're not truly humble.
At the same time, being humble doesn't mean that we have a bad view of ourselves or that we have low self-esteem. Humble people can be confident in themselves and their abilities, but the difference is that they're not prideful about it. Being humble doesn't mean that we become everyone's doormat and forget our own personal needs either.
Humility and pride are on opposite ends of the spectrum of how we view ourselves.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." —1 Peter 5:6-7
We're told to consider other people’s needs over our own and to be servant-minded like Jesus (Philippians 2:3-11). Jesus says He will exalt the humble, but He will humble the one who exalts himself (Matthew 23:12). Be open and willing to allow God to fully develop humbleness in your heart.
God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). God will help us to develop humility if we ask Him, but we should not be surprised at how painful and difficult our lives can get when we're trying to grow in humbleness.
Being humble doesn't come as a second nature to us because we're all sinners (Romans 3:23). We all want to defend and protect our egos sometimes. But to actively develop humbleness, we must let the chains of pride slip away. Humility and pride cannot coexist.
The choice is yours: Will you surrender to being humble or let the chains of pride continue to hold you back?
Humility is something we must practice and nurture over time. God can and will give us the strength to develop true humility. Humbleness is a difficult process, so we have a few steps that may help you cultivate true humbleness after you've asked God to guide you.
When serving others, examine your heart's motives on a regular basis. Be honest with yourself. When you choose to serve or help others, are you doing so for the right reasons? Do you care if you get acknowledgement or praise? If you're unsure, ask God to reveal and correct any wrong motives, so you can bring glory to His name (Colossians 3:17).
For example, if you pay for your friend's lunch because they forgot theirs, that is an act of service. Whether it was done in humility depends on your motivations. Did you pay for their lunch so your friend would think more highly of you, shower you with gratitude, and/or "owe" you one? Or did you buy their lunch because you wanted to treat them, help them out, and/or enjoy their company?
When we're honest with ourselves by asking these questions, it helps us discover our true motivations for why we choose to do things for others. Whenever our actions are done for the purpose of obtaining praise, recognition, or rewards for ourselves, we're acting on pride—not humbleness. This can be a hard habit to break, but remember, God is on your side and more than willing to help realign prideful motives.
This next step may be more difficult than the first because it involves examining your response (internal and external) when you feel left out, insulted, ignored, or unappreciated. It's easy to jump into defensive mode or have a pity party when these things happen, but being humble means you don’t result to emotional tantrums when you feel you've been slighted.
Rather than exploding in anger or sorrow, talk to God and thank Him. I know...you’re probably thinking, “What?! Thank God when I get overlooked, forgotten, or left out?” Yes. Exactly.
Pride tells us we deserve to be noticed, remembered, and included. In the midst of those feelings, practice humility by thanking God for the opportunity to acknowledge and change prideful responses to hurtful behavior. Is it sad to be overlooked, forgotten, or left out? Of course. But Jesus gets it!
Jesus was not treated well by people either. He was literally “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). So yeah, He knows what it's like to be insulted, left out, rejected, and underappreciated. Yet, did He ever resort to self-pity or egotistical defense tactics? Nope. Talk to Him about what you're feeling. He understands.
We can only conquer pride when we accept that pride is a problem, ask God for help, and actively seek to change. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of prideful thoughts, our job is to respond in humble obedience to His instruction. We ought to capture prideful thoughts and stop them dead in their tracks.
Be honest and recognize where pride is causing a problem in your life. Take those thoughts and confess them to Jesus. Ask God to help you transform prideful thoughts into something that brings Him glory. It may sound impossible, but God has a lot more power than we do—especially when it comes to taking bad things and transforming them into a force for good (Romans 8:28).
In the Old Testament, we find several men who were strong-willed, gutsy...and struggling with pridefulness. King Hezekiah, King Ahab, King Rehoboam, and King Manasseh were all confronted with impending judgment from God because of their prideful behavior.
They each chose to humble themselves and cry out to God for His mercy. Making the wise choice to humble themselves saved them from God's judgment. God’s response to their humility was mercy, and they were spared.
May we all do likewise when pride rears its head, because if we don’t choose to humble ourselves, God will do it for us (Luke 1:52).
Moses and Paul were both humble, but the most perfect example we have of a truly humble person is Jesus (Matthew 11:29). Jesus took the very nature of a servant even though He is God in the flesh (Philippians 2:3-11). That is true humility!
To take off His divine nature to become a fragile human form, then to be insulted, rejected, hated, and humiliated for a world that would reject Him? Yet He still chose to humble Himself and die for our us, so that we might exist in eternity with Him (Romans 5:8).
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” —Ephesians 4:2
When we truly practice humility like Jesus did, we will genuinely value others above ourselves, while also remembering our own value as God's sons and daughters.
Instead of trying to earn glory, recognition, and praise for ourselves, we ought to dedicate all glory, recognition, and praise to God. He created us. He gave us our personalities, quirks, and authored our stories. We are His masterpieces at work! Give credit where credit is due.
God will give us opportunities to learn humility throughout our lives. Maybe it's in the form of working a thankless job, or not getting recognition for doing most of the work in a group project, or giving you the choice to sit with the new, unpopular kid at lunch even if other kids will taunt you for it.
Practicing true humility can be hard, but be encouraged that our true reward is in Heaven—not here on earth (Matthew 6:4). Take a Heaven-focused mentality, and when times get tough, you'll have an easier time choosing humility over pride.
The Bible is clear that humility is essential to serving God and others with the right heart. Examine and challenge your motivations for helping others and your responses to being slighted. Capture prideful thoughts and turn them over to God for transformation into something better (Romans 8:28). Being humble doesn't mean we devalue ourselves, rather we just stop focusing on ourselves ALL THE TIME. We recognize the great value of loving others and bringing God glory through our words and actions. When we choose humility, God lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6). True humility brings freedom from the bonds of pride.
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.