Learning to Practice True Humility, Part 1

by Veronica Neffinger

Humility is an important character quality in the Christian life. Although most of us know this, we also likely know that humility is one of the most difficult qualities to develop and consistently live out in our Christian walk.

The very nature of humility seems counterintuitive to our culture’s values. Our society applauds independence, fame, success, and self-reliance.

Humility often feels like a paradox, but it’s consistent with Jesus’ teachings. For example, take this passage from Matthew:

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16).

Or this passage from Mark: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).

To take it even a step further, this representation of the humble being the true recipients of God’s Kingdom and blessings, we need only look at the life Jesus himself lived.

Philippians 2:5-8 says: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

This kind of sacrificial attitude and humility, God’s Word tells us, is what we are to live out in our relationships with each other.

But how do we do that? Where do we start? Relevant Magazine gives five practical ways to seek to cultivate humility in your Christian walk in an article titled “How to Actually be More Humble.”

  1. Pray for it.

While this may seem obvious, if you’re like me, you often forget that this is where it starts: we can simply ask our Heavenly Father who gives us all good gifts. He wants to bless us with humility because having a humble and teachable spirit allows us to experience more of the joy and peace he offers.

  1. Support leaders who value it.

It’s easy as a leader or person in authority to be anything but humble. We see it all the time, and unfortunately, Christians aren’t exceptions to the temptation to allow their positions of authority to become a cause for pride. But there are good leaders out there too who demonstrate humility. Seek these leaders out. Seek to learn from how they submit their leadership and authority to the Lord. You may even want to develop a mentorship relationship with them. I know I was blessed so much by being mentored by older women who led a Bible study at my church.

  1. Visualize your worst enemy at the cross.

This reminds me of something I once heard from a fellow believer: “It’s hard to stay bitter at someone if you are praying for that person.” The same goes for seeing someone you may dislike and disagree with in the same place as you–in need of forgiveness, in need of Christ. As the saying goes, “We are all level at the foot of the cross.” It’s hard to be prideful when you realize that every human being is a sinner in need of grace. This will also likely help you in developing compassion–a close cousin to humility.

  1. Read Luke with a highlighter.

Although this may sound like something you haven’t done since Sunday School, the fact remains that the Holy Spirit is ready to speak to us when we dive into God’s Word. There is so much we can glean from how Jesus taught and acted in the Gospels that can help us to cultivate humility. Pay attention to how He lived out his humanity in a humble way, even though He was fully God. The Gospel of Luke is rich with things we can learn and apply to our own lives from studying how Jesus interacted with people and what and how he taught them.

  1. Weed out media that negatively affects the way you act.

Social media often has the tendency to make us envious, snarky, and prideful. It’s important to recognize when an app or website we frequent is having a negative impact on us and developing very un-Christian qualities in our lives. If this is happening, it may be time to step back and take a break from social media (maybe use the time you normally scroll through Facebook or Instagram to instead read Luke!).

Hopefully, these five suggestions will spur you on to knowing Jesus more, abiding more in Him, and cultivating a genuine attitude of humility. It’s also important to remember that, like any spiritual fruit, humility is not something we can muster up ourselves. Ultimately, it is cultivated in us through the Holy Spirit. So be patient–God is working in your life as you trust Him more and more!

Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com