Many of today’s Christian circles have twisted humility into an excuse to be religious, self-deprecating and deterrent of all encouragement or praise. Perhaps you’ve observed this all-too-familiar occurrence in Church: someone preaches a powerful message on stage and you tell them they did an amazing job. Their knee-jerk response is, “Oh, that’s not me! That’s God. All the glory to Him.” While I see that the intention behind this attitude is to be humble, it’s actually missing the point.
It also begs the question — why do we feel the pressure to remove ourselves from the picture until we fade away into an abyss of invisibility? Why are we so uncomfortable with reward, honor and accolades?
Avoiding compliments isn’t a sign of humility but rather a lack of awareness of God’s glory and greatness in you… and it’s actually not the fruit of a humble heart.
YOU CAN’T STEAL GOD’S GLORY!
You were born to be amazing—in the very image and greatness of God. I find that one of the biggest deterrents for owning your greatness is the fear of stealing God’s glory. If you don’t want to steal God’s glory, then here’s some good news: you ain’t that big! And get this… the truth is you can’t steal something that was given to you!
In John 17:22 Jesus is praying for His disciples and says, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;”
Remember, you can’t steal God’s glory because He gave it to you. I’m not talking about being arrogant or haughty. I’m simply pointing out that we were not commissioned to arise and disappear but rather to arise and shine!
If we misunderstand humility we will sacrifice self-love in the name of being Christ-like. And today I’d like to propose that it’s got to stop!
YOU CAN’T LOVE OTHERS WITHOUT FIRST LOVING YOURSELF
Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19, emphasis added). It is surprising how much of an impact those two little letters, “a-s”, can have on a person’s life. Your neighbors, coworkers, spouse, kids, and friends are all being dramatically affected by this two-letter word. In fact, I propose that this tiny word is in charge of your finances, rules your emotional state and dictates how you relate to God.
“What?” you protest. “That’s ridiculous!”
Let me explain: The word “as” means “the same.” In other words, we can read this great commandment this way—love your neighbor the same way (or to the same level) as you love yourself. Since love looks like something, in other words, it’s more than empty words, your behavior toward your neighbor is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. What I’m getting at is that the best thing you can do for the people around you is to love yourself.
The great apostle Paul echoes these sentiments when he says, “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Ephesians 5:28–29, emphasis added) There is that tiny word “as” again, but this time instead of helping a neighbor, it is saving a marriage. This two-letter word demands an answer to a profound question: How do you feel about you?
HUMILITY IS NOT FEELING BAD ABOUT YOURSELF
You may have been taught that humility requires you to feel bad about yourself, or at least not to feel good about who you are. Nothing could be further from the truth! Humility does not dictate how you feel about yourself, but it does determine how you express your self-love to those around you. It is humility that requires the love you have for yourself to benefit those around you.
For example, when people are telling a story about something they have accomplished and you have a better story, it is humility that whispers, “Let them have the best story of the day; give them the spotlight.” It is self-love that makes it easy to give others the stage because your soul is not starving for affection or clamoring for attention. Extending God’s love to ourselves first lays a foundation for us to radically love those around us. On the other hand, when we starve our souls of love, we have no source to draw from to truly love others.
LOW SELF-ESTEEM DERAILS HUMILITY
True humility is actually derailed by self-hatred and undermined by low self-esteem. This is because humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is just thinking of yourself less. On the other hand, all self-demeaning thoughts center your attention on your sense of lack, drawing away your affection for God and others.
Humility can learn from the least, is moved by a child, embraces a rebuke, and lives in authenticity. Humility lets others take a bow while you take a seat. It is honor in action and love authenticated. True humility means that you recognize your needs without condemning your soul.
13 SIGNS YOU’RE HUMBLE
Matthew 7:20 says that we can recognize people by their fruit. I love the way the New Living Translation puts it; “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Humility produces beautiful fruit. These are some of the characteristics that will grow out of an overflow of what you’re cultivating in your heart:
- You know who you are without requiring others to acknowledge your identity.
- You allow others to get credit for things that should be attributed to you.
- You take a lower seat than you deserve.
- You refuse to promote yourself.
- You allow others to share their accomplishments without sharing yours, especially when yours are greater.
- You have an attitude that no task is beneath you.
- You’re honest about your weaknesses.
- You admit your mistakes.
- You live below your means.
- You work to promote others.
- You’re teachable.
- You’re correctable.
- You’re influenceable.
HUMILITY AND SELF-LOVE GO HAND-IN-HAND
Hopefully, by now you are convinced that loving yourself is the key to true Kingdom humility and cultivating a healthy soul, which is the foundation for living abundantly in every area of your life. But how do you practice humility? It all starts with going on a journey of receiving God’s love for yourself and learning to become friends with your own soul. It may not be an overnight fix, but every step of the journey is an invitation to know God more intimately and accept the beautifully intricate way He created you. In a Christian culture that spurns “denying yourself” into “denying every valid need, especially for love,” it’s so important that you take the time to do the hard work to rid yourself of any poverty thinking that may be holding you back. In the end, you’ll find yourself thriving and loving the people around you better than you knew was possible.
So my challenge to you today is to take self-care seriously, to invest in your soul and to understand God’s heart for you to live in abundance! How do you plan to shift the paradigm from self-deprecation to true humility, rooted in receiving God’s love for you? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!
Many times the people who struggle most with false humility and self-deprecation are spiritual paupers. I know this because I myself struggled for decades with a poverty mindset that relegated me to living like a proverbial pauper whose resources — like love, provision, attention, purpose, and recognition — consistently felt limited. Paupers believe that when someone else receives something, it takes away some of the provision that could be theirs. They surmise that someone else’s blessing costs them. This is because they have not yet learned in the depths of their hearts that they are a child of the King, who can and will provide for every need they have.
I’d like to propose that the revelation of your true identity and learning to love yourself will destroy the spirit of poverty in your life and set you free to live in true humility! This is one of the reasons I wrote my book, Poverty, Riches and Wealth. If you’re longing to live in freedom from lack so you can experience true kingdom abundance in every area of your life, I encourage you to check it out here!