What is Humility and Why You Need to Know


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What is humility? It's not about you, it's about your relationships. And it begins with your relationship to God.

Let me begin by saying I’m a little nervous about this month’s topic.


Because every month of doing The Faith Project I’ve not only had opportunities to learn and grow, I’ve had plenty of occasions to practice . . . to live out the discussion.

Let me explain…

I once heard a pastor preach on spiritual warfare say that he’d just come through one of his hardest weeks ever while preparing that message. If we’re going to talk about a subject or ask God to help us grow in a specific area He often has us learn by living it.

It’s part of wrestling with God’s truth.

You can talk about patience, but if you’ve never had to wait you probably don’t get it.

You can share passages from the Bible that give hope, but they will always mean more to someone who has desperately needed hope.

It’s the same with peace, compassion, and forgiveness.

So, I’ll admit it, I’m just a little nervous about starting a month long look at humility.

I don’t think of myself as having a pride problem, but the truth is everyone has a pride problem. The question isn’t if, the question is where we fall on the pride scale.

My favorite quote on humility is:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

On a scale of 1 to 10 – If 1 is proud (completely self-focused) and 10 is humble (completely God and others focused) where would you fall.

Proud  1       2      3      4      5     6      7     8      9      10  Humble

If you’re like me, you didn’t give yourself a 1 but you didn’t come close to a 10 either.

Are you beginning to understand why I’m a little nervous? I have a feeling I’m about to get some lessons in humility.

Why is it so hard to be humble?

#1 – Pride is generally considered a good thing . . . it’s important to “feel good about yourself” and take care of yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

#2 – Humility is thought to be passive . . . and weak. Someone who lets other people walk all over them.

Who wants that?

The problem is most people think of pride and humility horizontally—comparing people to people.

But… What is humility?

Humility has to begin vertically.

Humility must begin with God.

And another problem is…

The temptation to make God too small. Making Him who we think He is or who we want Him to be not stopping and allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed with awe by who He really is.

Think about it for a minute – He is:

God of the universe.
Creator of everything. Genesis 1:1
Rescuer of nations. Exodus 13
Splitter of seas. Exodus 14
God of gods and Lord of lords. Deuteronomy 10:17
Eternal God. Psalm 90:1–2
Truth. Proverbs 30:5, John 14:6

He is also – Trinity. Healer. Savior. Life. Love. Just. Righteous. Sovereign. Spirit. Deliverer. Holy. All-knowing. Present everywhere. All-powerful. Faithful. Unchanging. Good. Gracious. All in all. AND so much more.

Admit it, you read all those words but you didn’t stop to fully absorb what they mean. That’s okay. You couldn’t. You can’t. It’s just not possible.

“If God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn’t be big enough to be God.” ~Elizabeth Elliot

What is humility? It's not about you, it's about your relationships. And it begins with your relationship to God.

In Pride, Humility, & God written for the C. S. Lewis Institute, John Stott wrote:

Pride is the stubborn refusal to let God be God. It is the attempt to dethrone God and enthrone self. Sin is self-deification. 

Humility is acknowledging the truth about ourselves, that as creatures we depend on our Creator’s power and as sinners on our Savior’s grace. 

Like freedom, love, wisdom, and prayer, humility is about relationship.

Relationship with God

I want to know God more . . . not about Him but Him. I want to sit at His feet with awe and wonder. I want to pay closer attention to what He is doing around me. I want to spend less time thinking about me and more time thinking about Him.

I want to love Him more. I want to praise Him with all my heart.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
    the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For You created all things,
and they exist because You created what You pleased.”
Revelations 4:8–11

Relationship with People

I want to learn more about what it means to live humbly with people and still be a strong, courageous, follower of Jesus. I want to find a better balance between caring for others and caring for me. I want to see what true humility looks like in a society where it is often discouraged.

I want to love God more by loving His people well.

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

I hope you’ll join me. This month is sure to be both challenging and a blessing.

I always enjoy hearing from you! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below.

Would you do me a favor — if this article blessed or helped you today — would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…

Don’t forget to leave your prayer requests…

May we pray for you

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  1. Karen Grosz says:

    Beautiful. To me humility is knowing my place in relationship to God. He is God, I am not. He is all knowing, I am not. Yet I am His child, loved dearly. I am sure you will find many lessons on humility this month. God is good.

    1. I agree, Karen. I think for too many humility comes in the way they compare themselves to other people, but I don’t think we’ll ever come close to getting humility right until we look at who we are in relation to God. Fall on your face awe . . . leads to a humble heart. Thanks so much for visiting and stopping to say, ‘hi.’

  2. I’m looking forward to reading more from you about humility this month. I love that Elizabeth Eliot quote you included in this post. I hope you have a wonderful day, Deb. I saw this post over on the #momentsofhope link up. We’re neighbors there today. : )

    1. Thanks, Dawn! I liked her quote too. I’m so excited about Lori’s new link-up. Enjoy your birthday!! Blessings and hugs!

  3. Hey Deb,
    What a thought-provoking post today. This is good stuff!
    I love the quote by Elizabeth Elliot. I know that whenever I need to remember God’s greatness, I just open to Isaiah 40 and read about how we are a “drop in the bucket!”
    Thanks for always sharing things that point people to the feet of Jesus.
    Sure am blessed by you!

    1. I love Isaiah 40. It not only reminds us of who we are in relation to who God is but then it tells us how He cares for and strengthens us. What an awesome God we serve! Blessings my friend! Thanks so much for your faithful encouragement!!

  4. Pride is certainly a stumbling block for most of us, “deifying” ourselves instead of humbling ourselves to the majesty and might of our God. I’m looking forward to working on my humility meter with you this month, Deb!

    1. Thanks, Martha! I think we consider humility as we compare ourselves to other people when all our humility comes as we look at who we are under the grace and mercy of a heavenly Father who loves us. Perspective changes everything. I think I’m going to learn a lot this month. Blessings!!

  5. Humility is tough. It creeps in when we least expect it! I was just talking to my boys’ sweet coach. He is a young man who played professional basketball until his knee injuries took him out of the game. He’s struggling to do his heart’s desire with the next part of his journey. He wants to coach and mentor young men to be not only good athletes, but strong men of God. But the field of sports is filled with pride and we have witnessed so many of these young men fall in their pursuit because of exactly that! Wonderful post, Deb!!!

    1. What a blessing to have a young man like this mentoring your boys. Praise God! We tend to make idols out of celebrities . . . I’m always blessed to see humble talented individuals who reject glorifying themselves and point to God’s glory. Thanks for your encouragement my friend!

  6. Kim Jolly says:

    Hi Deb, You certainly have a challenging topic to ponder and write about. Humble is one adjective we can never use in describing ourselves! Just a thought: do those who struggle with self-confidence also struggle with humility (almost counter-intuitive)?


    1. Thanks, Kim. I know I have much to learn in this area and thankful for people like you who are willing to take the journey with me. God bless you!

  7. I just downloaded a book to review on humility so this is a timely subject! (“The Blessing of Humility” by Jerry Bridges) I remember one year when I chose humility for my One Word. Oh my–it was a year of having my pride hammered. Which was a good thing, but a very, very hard thing. I know humility is something I definitely need more of! Thanks for sharing this, Deb.

    1. I think we all need more of the right kind of humility. And I can’t imagine what it was like studying humility for an entire year. Having my pride hammered is exactly what I’m nervous about. 🙂

  8. Kelly Basham says:

    Humility is a hard lesson to learn. God is still working with me on this particular issue. I don’t think he will ever be done with me! By the way, I love that quote by Elizabeth Elliot….

    1. I think learning humility is a life-long battle, Kelly. We’ll never be perfect in the humility department this side of heaven. So thankful for God’s faithful grace and mercy. Blessings to you!

  9. Jason Stasyszen says:

    Wow, I came at it from a different angle, but I wrote about the same thing yesterday. Staying connected to humility and how do you do that? Does it matter how you do that? I believe so and you touched on many of the same ideas here. Great confirmation for me! Thanks Deb.

    1. I love when the Spirit encourages several of us in the same direction. Confirmation for sure. I really love this sentence from your post…You know what else is humbling? No matter what you do or don’t do, He loves you.

      Humbling indeed! Great post, Jason!

  10. EXCELLENT thoughts!! The world turns pride and humility on their heads and looks a them upside down from the way God does. I love the point about humility begins with a vertical look!

    Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to your insights this month!

    1. Thank you, Kate. I think it’s going to be a very interesting month. I love digging deep into God’s truth. Praying to keep pointing to Him and staying focused on His amazing grace.

  11. Debbie Williams says:

    Deb just sitting here and really worshipping as I read through this. Amazing how God speaks over and over to us all at once. I’ve been studying about humility in a Bible Study I’m in this week.

  12. Ah, Deb, this is so well done. Thank you! I love the quotes by Stott and Elizabeth Elliot especially. You are so right about how humility gets so mixed up in our understanding. I recall well being told over and over again as a child not to think much of myself. Somehow that got messed up too with viewing myself as not valuable to God or anyone else. Sadly, it made it harder for me to believe the Lord could love me for a time. I look forward to this series and I will pray for you as the Lord brings you to mind because I know also that whatever we teach, we find new chances to practice. Thanks again!