Humility

In Christian spirituality, humility is one of those almost taboo subjects – if you think you’re humble, you’re not humble. It would seem that you can really get tied in knots thinking about it! I have found this psychological and “secular” point of view which seems to be a refreshing change from some of the churchy hyperbole we are used to.

I do think we would be suspect if we went around telling people “I’m humble”. On the other hand, there are things to examine about our general attitude to life. Humility is almost as high as Prudence in the hierarchy of virtues. Pride is ultimately the root of all sin.

A lot will depend on our personality and our weaknesses in the way of narcissism, seeking attention, having a high sense of entitlement. Some of us will have less of a struggle against these tendencies. It is very stressing to be in competition against others, tail-gating the car in front in a show of impatience and anger. For some, it is not difficult to be humble and take a back seat. Having high status in life also involves responsibility and risk. The higher you climb, the harder you fall.

Humility is also being ourselves, not some kind of caricature or copy of someone else. We always have to accept our limitations. Humble people are less anxious about our mortality. We all die of something, and that is a certitude. My wife worries that I would have a stroke whilst out in my boat. It can happen at home, and we can die of other things. We can also get cancer or die of an accident. Anything can happen. We just have to live from day to day. When we are Christians, we believe in being prepared for it and being right with God.

With a lower sense of entitlement, it isn’t so bad when things don’t turn out as we expect or would wish. We become open-minded, less prejudiced, more tolerant and less defensive about what we believe to be true. This is a constant theme with me.

In the end, it isn’t a question of being humble, but keeping a humble attitude in life. There isn’t much left of Lent, but it isn’t too late for something new.

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