Our Toxic Definition of Humility

What if we aren’t really humble? What if we’re just afraid?

Anna K. Hughes
Jul 3, 2017 · 4 min read

Growing up I thought that humility was never telling other people what you were good at.

I thought being humble meant shying away from compliments and in extreme circumstances denying them, even if they were true.

Humility meant keeping to yourself and not standing out.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see just how toxic this definition of humility really is.

As I’ve gotten older, God has revealed to me that my tendency to deny and shy away and keep to myself, isn’t really humility at all.

It’s timidity.

It’s the exact thing that the Lord calls us not to be.

“ For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

And this definition of humility has created a generation of women who are afraid to speak, who doubt their gifts, and who are unwilling to lead.

Defining humility as timidity is a toxic lie straight from Satan himself that he has been using to silence our voices and keep us from the work God has called us to.

When we define humility as stepping back, shying away, and denying the gifts that God has given us, we may very well step back, shy away from, or deny the very opportunities that God has called us to serve.

You see, humility isn’t self-denial in the sense that we deny the person God has created us to be. Humility is self-denial in the sense that humble people put the needs of others before their own.

I had the privilege to take part in a brainstorming meeting recently. In the room were people who were both bold and humble. Confident and meek.

They were bold and confident in their faith in Jesus Christ and their life calling to do His work — both in business and in ministry.

And they were humble and meek towards one another — accepting compliments graciously and encouraging one another faithfully.

We humbled ourselves before the meeting and sought the Lord’s guidance. We listened to one another’s ideas never trying to one-up or out-do the other. And we worked diligently and confidently, using each of our gifts to the best of our ability to help our friend establish the best possible plan for this new ministry.

Humility has nothing to do with not having confidence in yourself and everything to do with how you much you concern yourself with yourself and how others view you.

Often times I find that when I am being the most timid, is also when I am being the most prideful; they are the moments when I am most concerned about what everyone else is thinking about me instead of how God actually sees me.

True humility comes when we recognize and constantly remind ourselves of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Without Jesus, we would be helpless, worthless, and bound to our sin. But with Him, and through Him, we are now empowered, worthy, and set free.

And this does not bring us to boast in pride because it is not of any work of our own (Ephesians 2:8–10)!

The truth of the gospel instead, ought to humble us to our knees. It ought to bring us to love and serve others just as our savior did.

When we believe the lie that we are to deny our gifts we begin to actually believe that we don’t have those gifts. Many of us even deny those gifts because we are afraid that if we were to use them we wouldn’t meet the expectations of those around us.

This is not humility.

A truly humble person isn’t concerned with how they will be seen by others, because that again would be concerning themselves with themselves. A truly humble person is one who concerns themselves with how they can serve others with complete and utter disregard to what anyone else might think and total regard for how they can continue to further the work of our great King.

I am going to continue to pray for God to destroy every timid part of my heart. To make every part of my heart only concerned with His will and His way. I pray you will do the same.

An Excerpt from Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis:

“To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

Anna K. Hughes

Written by

Believer. Writer. Friend. | The cross meant to kill is my victory http://annakathrynhughes.com

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