Humility does not mean false modesty. Humility does not mean taking a back seat. When you take a back seat consciously and deliberately in order to show others how humble you are, you are not being humble at all. False humility is what slaves show to their masters. Slaves know that if they do not obey their masters blindly if they do not show this kind of outer humility, the master will punish them. True humility is something totally different; it is the feeling of oneness. Humility means giving joy to others. Here on earth, we want to get joy. But how do we get joy? The real joy we get from self-giving, not by possessing or by showing our own supremacy. When we allow others to get joy, then we feel that our joy is more complete, more perfect, more divine. By making others feel that they are either equally important or more important, we show our true humility. -Sri Chinmoy
I would love to be truly humble, but I’m not very good at it. I try to be, but there’s this thing called “ego” that gets in the way. There’s a part of me that needs recognition, that needs to feel that others have acknowledged me and appreciated me and even maybe admired me, and that part of me doesn’t like to see my humble self put into practice and strengthened.
From experience, though, I know that humility is one of the traits that opens more doors to other people’s hearts than any other. When I’m humble, people tend to trust me, they tend to be willing to confide in me and allow me to help them. When I listen to them rather than telling them about me, they appreciate my attention and they tend to be willing to disclose more to me. These things make them feel better, and that’s one of the ways that humility serves them.
Humility is the act of kindness with no recognition for someone to whom that act will be helpful; it’s allowing others to take credit without diminishing their true accomplishments with a story about mine, as long as their claims are true and fair; it’s serving others without letting them walk all over us. Humility often requires us to do a balancing act between serving and being fair. It’s great to let someone else take credit, but if we know that person is lying and will face awful consequences down the road for the dishonesty, then our humility is false, and it doesn’t serve that person at all. If someone is abusing us or our goodness, allowing that person to continue by playing the humble servant is destructive to both of us.
If my humility would hurt another person or other people, then I believe it’s time for me to put it in my back pocket and pull out the equally powerful aspects of myself that are called truth and straightforwardness. Just as some people aren’t ready to deal with love or a new job or responsibility, some aren’t ready or able to deal with humility in someone else without trying to take advantage of it. I try to be humble always, but I also want to be honest and helpful to others who may need my help.
Questions to consider:
What are some of the things that keep us from being humble?
How do people tend to see other people who are humble?
Does your culture value humility? Why or why not?
For further thought:
We have learned about true humility. To be humble is to surrender, to give up trying to change people or circumstances, to give up trying to force our will upon others. Humility is being quiet, being at rest, and being confident that God is present in every situation. Humility is being at peace, always.