Humbleness is the Way!: #Go for It!

Pastor and theologian Richard Gula points out that to properly understand humbleness or humility is to locate the word “humility” in light of its Latin root humus (earth) – a word that is also the origin of the word “human.”[i] Gula further notes that humility means to be down to earth about one’s self. In scripture, Paul teaches the churches in Rome to be down to earth in the way that they think about themselves. He says, ”I say to everyone among you not to think of himself [and herself] more highly than he [and she] ought to think” (Romans 12:3a). Being down to earth does not mean to deny our gifts but rather to be honest about our limitations. Gula explains that humility like this is possible when we have acquired the appropriate amount of self-esteem but not arrogance.[ii] Humility demands a certain amount of self-esteem. Without self-esteem, humility is threatened by the lack of confidence. People who are confident recognize that their personal gifts have limitations. When we are comfortable with whom we are it is much easier to listen and learn from others.

Self-esteem and arrogance are contradicting virtues. Self-esteem means to understand who we are with the confidence of acknowledging the need for others to help us in areas of our weaknesses. Arrogance means to imagine our gifts to be greater than the need to listen to others. Arrogant people don’t know who they are. They tend to spend a lot of time trying to prove that they know more than they do, that they are more important than someone else, and that they are more successful than they are.

Speaking more personally, other attributes that we are likely to exemplify when we are not humble are the following. We want to teach more than we listen. We want to lead more than we want to be led. We want accolades for our contributions more than we want to compliment others. We want to talk about ourselves more than we want to learn about others.

Growing up, my dad taught my siblings and me, “Humbleness is the Way.” He would often explain that listening is more important than talking. I could here him many times throughout my life saying, “It pays to listen.” I believe that the margin of success that I have experienced has a lot to do with listening. I could only wish that I had listened more and endeavor to listen more, moving forward. Proverbs 1:5 states, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Know I understand that my dad was instilling into my siblings and me a key virtue towards success. Success is born out of the willingness to listen and learn and to observe and absorb.

[i]. Richard Gula, Just Ministry (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2010), 106.

[ii]. Ibid., 107.

Dr. Antipas L. Harris
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