This is the second post in a series of characteristics/values that we would love our children to embrace wholeheartedly. This week is humility.
First of all, humility is the ability to understand reality and adjust accordingly. Don’t confuse humility with a humble disposition. Weakness is not humility either. A humble person doesn’t just agree with everybody (supposed intolerance) or “go with the flow.” Secondly, no person is always humble all the time. Humility is like a mist or a swift wind that comes and goes. It’s elusive. You might witness traces of it here and there, but it is altogether phantom-like. If you just thought to yourself, “Well, I am humble” – ironically you just indicted yourself. Sorry. Our default mode is not toward humility but pride or self-love, self-protection, self-esteem. We think we’re pretty good, and we protect our self-image at all costs. I mean, we’re not like those really bad people in prisons. We compare ourselves with the really bad folks and justify our actions accordingly. We control our system of salvation. But is that reality? Is that humble? Humility is the ability to understand reality and adjust accordingly. The 4th century theologian St. Augustine said, “Pride is the mother of all sins.” If Augustine is right, then creating a self-vindicating reality is just as evil as the local drug dealer on his worst behavior.
I think we all would agree that humility is a desirable virtue. Hopefully, we all agree that we are lacking in this area. (Remember, don’t indict yourself!) So how do we get our children to pursue humility? The danger is this…we can act humble, but not actually be humble. These are called hypocrites. These are the worst parents because they send their children conflicting messages, literally communicating with their lives, “Do as I say, not as I do.” That makes no sense! So how do we get our children to pursue humility?