Becoming a humble person isn´t an easy journey, and one which we can´t win unless we walk with God.
Most of my life I was an underdog. I hardly belonged, always the center of bullying and just plain different.
Although I never tried hard to belong to the majority, especially the popular cliques, and instead grouped together other underdogs like me, deep inside there was the desire to be accepted, to be just one of them without being labeled “poor” or “ugly”.
Working hard and aiming the top became my escape. I thought that improving my economic status and looks would make those people who used to make me feel inferior accept and recognize me. They were some schoolmates, teachers, acquaintances and colleagues who still live in the Philippines.
Many years later, I living in Europe, a stylish fashion blogger who´s been to Paris and many other places, has a large wardrobe and living her dream of becoming a writer, I contacted those who used to act well above me through Facebook.
My aim was to initiate friendship or to just keep in touch. They were already in my Facebook friends list so sending them a private message was easy. But to my surprise, my messages were unreturned and all I got were cold shoulders, some even blocked me.
But what was even more surprising was that, I had a feeling the situation was now reversed. Those people now felt inferior to me and me, if I were to be honest, felt superior over them.
There was so much pride in my heart that I wanted to show those people what I had accomplished and done that they haven´t.
More than just the desire of being accepted, deep down I wanted to say, “Look at what happened to the girl you used to look down or bully.”
Humility was a lesson I badly needed to learn.
[Tweet “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3”]
Thankfully, God showed me the way on how to be humble. Here are the 7 habits of a humble person.
1. You remember that everything you have is a gift from God.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:28
[Tweet “Everything that we have—our beauty, body, breath and heartbeat, gifts and talents—is from God.”] He gave them to us without us having to work for them. If we think about it, what is there to brag about?
Sure we can work hard to develop our talents, we can toil to improve our economic status, we can spend money to improve our looks, or we can be so blessed to have wealthy parents or husband to give us a better life, but without the basic necessities such as our health and physical body, are we able to do those things much more enjoy them?
How then that we take pride of what we have?
2. You know that boasting is foolishness and often, is a sign of insecurity.
How much does your intellect, career or paycheck define you? They defined me bigtime so that when I moved to Europe to join my husband and start a new career, I found my self-confidence dipped.
Every now and then I found myself sitting with some new friends across the table telling them with pride all the accomplishments I gained during my career as a teacher in international schools.
I boasted about what I used to do in order to cover the insecurity I felt from no longer making the large paycheck I used to make.
[Tweet “One way we can practice humility—to speak as little as possible of one’s self. ~ Mother Teresa”]
The kings of the ancient Near East, and even Solomon, dined in self-exaltation. They often boasted of their wisdom, achievements and military victories.
Solomon spent most of the riches of his kingdom beautifying it and building a very large army even if they weren´t going to war. King Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed the greatness of his kingdom built by his mighty power for his own glory.
“If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
or if you plan evil,
clap your hand over your mouth!
For as churning cream produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife.”
~ Proverbs 30:32-33 (NIV)
Boasting is foolishness because it encourages envy and breeds anger and strife. It also gives window to your insecurities and low self-confidence.
3. You are in constant communion with God
As Christians we are called “to walk humbly with God” (Micha 6:8). This Bible text is a giveaway, for unless we walk with God and commune with Him on a daily basis, we can´t be a humble person.
The enemy, who´s the author of pride, is so powerful and creative that he uses many things to lure us into taking pride of what we have.
[Tweet ““Life is a long lesson in humility.” ― J.M. Barrie, The Little Minister “]
But if we know the Lord in a personal way, we live in communion with Him and we´re constantly connected to the Source of Light, we will grow in humility.
4. You accept that your understanding about God and the universe is limited.
Notice that those who deny the existence of God take pride of their intelligence and ability to explain things with reason. But no matter how hard they try, there are many mysteries in nature and the universe that their human reason cannot fathom.
Pride is the bottom line of their disbelief in God.
But as humble human beings we accept that the nature of God is mystery. And that even if the Bible provides a way for us to know the greatness of God, His love and creation, we also know that there are many things left unknown.
But in spite of not fully understanding the nature of God, we believe in Him. We have faith in Him. That´s being humble.
5. You don´t practice self-righteousness.
At some point in your life you may have met people who are so self-righteous. There are many of them even inside the church.
I remember when I was new in Thailand, I had only one friend. She´s my aunt´s close friend who picked me up at the airport. But she wasn´t staying long, she would fly back to the Philippines in a few days; I was to take over her apartment room.
One evening she told me that she´s going to a baking party with her friends the next day. I already knew who those friends were; they were the high-status Filipinos who led our denomination´s mother church in Bangkok. They appeared very righteous; they were always on the pulpit every church service.
I asked her if I could come along; it would be a great opportunity for me to have friends and build connections.
But she said “No, you can´t, because the party is only for the elite”.
I wondered if those elite people were so self-righteous that a non-elite and non-righteous like me couldn´t be friends with them.
But a humble person understands that no matter how close she is with God, how devoted she is in serving Him and no matter how active she is in church, “in light of the cross her righteousness is as filthy as rags” (Isa. 64:6).
She recognizes her spiritual poverty and need of redemption. She does not judge people, condemn sinners, finger point or act like she´s Miss Perfect because she knows that she too, is a filthy sinner.
6. You treat those who are below you with love and respect.
My husband is a very humble man. It´s one of his characters that I admire greatly. He doesn´t show off, never brags, and doesn´t walk with high nose.
But because he didn´t grow up in poverty, he does not really have a big heart for the poor. In fact, if a homeless man is sitting on the sidewalk with a coin cup beside another man who holds a placard soliciting for the street dogs and cats, he would give for the homeless pets but not for the homeless man. His reason was that, the animals couldn´t help themselves much but the man could.
I have a different position. I care for the homeless pets and grieve for the abused animals but I also have a big heart for the poor and the homeless. Probably because I´ve there, not to the point of homelessness, but I used to be really poor. So I have so much love for them.
Witnessing me always giving help to the poor whenever we´re together, my husband had a change of heart. There was a time when we walked passed a homeless man and I slowed down, but I didn´t have much to give in my wallet. My husband reached for his pocket and handed me a bill, motioning to give it to the homeless man. It warmed my heart.
Treating well those who are below you includes showing appreciation to blue-collared workers such as the janitors, the cleaning ladies or fast-food workers. Smiling and saying “thank you” to them, or giving tip is a good way of acknowledging their important job.
[Tweet ““Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.”]
I remembered a Filipina co-teacher in the first school where I worked in Thailand, she was having breakfast with the school´s cleaning ladies and janitors in the canteen when an American teacher went to her and commented, “I didn´t know you´ve changed your job!”
7. You pray the only prayer in Proverbs
Did you know that there´s only one prayer in the book of Proverbs?
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.
~ Proverbs 30:7-9
When you pray, do you ask God to provide only your needs or do you ask Him for more? This prayer in Proverbs says it all, and if I´m to be honest yet again, I found it true to me. The more that I´m financially abundant, the less that I strengthen my relationship with God.
As an example, my first teaching job in Thailand gave me a small paycheck but with free apartment and transportation. Money was always too tight for me since I sent most of it to my parents in the Philippines. But during my two years of stay in that work, I was so close to God and had time to preach the gospel. I was giving a Bible study to a friend and several of my female colleagues were going with me to church.
However, when money became really tight back home, I stole from God by not giving back the tithes.
When I moved to the second school where my paycheck more than doubled, and my per hour rate for private tutorials more than quadrupled, I had no more time to read the Bible, I stopped singing with the church choir because I no more had the time and energy for practice, and I stopped sharing the gospel to others. I strayed away from God.
Thus, as a humble person, instead of asking God for all the things that you want, and complaining if you don´t get all the luxurious things that you covet, you should start praying only for what you need and what matters the most, and learning to appreciate all the things that God provides for you.
Let this be our prayer.