I’m reading a book by John Dickson titled Humilitas. It’s a book about the virtue of being humble. So far, it’s incredibly insightful. It explores historical examples of the incredibly humble and the incredibly prideful and explains the practical benefits of being humble. One of the best lines in the book, attributed to C. S Lewis, is that “humility is NOT thinking less of ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less”.
The reason I’m reading the book is because I agree with the underlying premise. Being humble is sexy! Are you drawn to to people who are arrogant, haughty, pompous, self-righteous, or prideful? Do you enjoy spending time with such people? I’m not aware of anyone who is.
A good example is how children often behave when being instructed by their elders. When I’m trying to help my kids with school homework, or I’m instructing them on how to fix something, I almost always hear in response: “I know!”. Such pride wouldn’t be so ugly if they actually did know. When we present ourselves as all-knowing, when it’s plain to just about everyone else that we are clueless then self-confidence takes on an incredibly repulsive form.
Christians – Self-righteous or Humble?
And so, when I think about reversing negative Christian stereotypes, and what Christians should be known for, “humble” comes to mind. Far too often, we are thought to be self-righteous. We are known to think of ourselves as better people than non-Christians.
I’m not questioning here whether we are wrong or right. I wouldn’t be a Christian if I thought we were wrong on that. I’m questioning how we should behave in spite of believing we are right, in matters of faith and spirituality
I’m saying we SHOULD be humble. But do we not already strive to be humble? Maybe we do strive for it, but just aren’t up to the task. It’s so easy to think we know everything. It’s way too easy to believe we are right about a particular position or issue. The fact is, we don’t know everything and we aren’t always right. None of us have the completely perfect and infinite mind of God. Or speaking only for myself, I don’t know everything and I’m not always right.
My encouragement to those of you who struggle with humility is to surround yourself with smarter people. Surround yourself with people who hold different beliefs or opinions and discover what they think and why. Then, share what you think with them. With an open mind and a humble heart, both of you might learn something new.
Have a humble, learning spirit instead of a prideful spirit, and you will be well on your way to helping reverse negative Christian stereotypes.