As much as humility is valued in Christianity, there are plenty of Christians who are pretty bad at it. Everyone knows them. They have must read the Bible more than anyone else in church. They need to pray for the most people. They absolutely must do the best job at forgiving those that harmed them. They are the modern day Pharisees, those who think themselves more holy and righteous than those around them.
Unfortunately, this sort of false piety and self-righteous pride is often rewarded. People who are not paying attention really do think that the person is living a holy life. These people become youth leaders, mentors and important members of the church while drowning in their own pride. Modern culture does not help in this regard. Social media and the increasing emphasis on self-esteem has groomed a generation to see the spotlight as the most important thing in the world.
Humility, however, is central to Christianity. God Himself came to earth and died on a cross. There is no way to go from higher than that to lower than that. Pride, meanwhile, is dangerous. As Lisa Bevere says in her book “Adamant,” pride “sets us in opposition…to love…God actually resists and opposes the proud while gracing the humble.” Humility, however, can be difficult to regain once pride has snuggled into your heart. Here are four everyday ways to humble yourself.
Stop Taking Selfies
You may have seen declarations before about how the selfie has raised a generation of narcissists. You may also have rolled your eyes at those opinions and dismissed them as alarmist brouhaha. While it is probably too early to say what the long-term effect of the selfie craze will be, there is no escaping the fact that selfies make it far too easy to get lost in yourself.
Before the selfie, if you wanted a picture of yourself you had to ask someone else to take it. You could not stand there all day taking pictures of yourself. Your conscripted photographer would eventually walk away. With selfies, however, you can take as many pictures of yourself as you want. You can flaunt your legs or show off your biceps. You can take dozens of selfies in a day. You can take them when you are laying on the couch or when you are standing in front of a monument. In the latter case, your head is probably taking up 80 percent of the image while the Grand Canyon is a little stripe in the corner of the frame.
Selfies make it too easy to focus on your life, your beauty, your awesomeness. They are, by nature, all about me, me, me. To practice some humility, put away the selfie stick. If you really want a picture of yourself, ask someone else to take it. If it is not important enough to involve someone else, you probably do not need a photograph of it. Similarly, if you go somewhere amazing, take a picture of what you see instead of having your face hog the frame. Take a step back, and stop assuming you are at the center of every story.
Take a Break From Social Media
Social media seems to be responsible for everything from teen depression rates to global warming, and depending on who you ask, it probably had something to do with that troublesome apple in Eden. While social media is obviously not the cause of every problem in the world, it does put the focus on “me, me, me” just like selfies. Social media is literally a platform meant to advertise what an awesome life you live. You post pictures of yourself at the beach with “#earlysummer” and share statuses about how amazing your date was last night. You fall into the trap of bragging about how wonderful you and your life are and trying to one-up your “friends.” Because you are not speaking to someone face to face, you probably do not even think of social media as bragging, but that is what it is: a long brag session about how awesome you have it. Expecting everyone to care about how you “had the best lunch ever guys, I can’t even!” is not exactly living in humility, is it?
There is little that takes more maturity and humility than apologizing. This is because an honest apology requires saying the three most difficult words in the English language: I was wrong.
The main force that keeps people from apologizing is pride. No one wants to admit that they were wrong. No one wants to accept blame for when things go wrong. No one wants to admit that they made an innocent, honest mistake. This resistance to apologies, however, is nonsensical and rooted in something very dangerous. When pride keeps you from apologizing, you have, on some subconscious level, started to believe that you should not be capable of mistakes. You should be perfect, or already are, and thus you should not have to apologize for mistakes. This line of thought, however, is dangerous because it ignores one of the most basic truths of life: humans are flawed. Humans are incapable of living life without making mistakes or doing something wrong. Accepting that fact is a necessary step in humbling yourself.
Talk About Someone Else
You have probably had a conversation where you have found a way to make absolutely everything relate back to you. You may not be doing in maliciously or even consciously, but everything seems to keep circling around to your life and your experiences. This is natural, because humans like to talk about themselves. You may even simply be trying to show the other person that you can relate to their experiences. Making the conversation about you, however, is problematic because it makes you the center of not just your life, but someone else’s life.
To practice humility, make it a point to do more listening than talking during some conversations. Ask the other person questions that will get them talking. You will be able to take a step back from your pride and learn more about the other person when you stop talking solely about yourself.
Humbling yourself is not easy, especially when everything around you tells you to make it about “me, me, me!” Stepping away from your pride, however, is a necessary step to living a Christian life. After all, Jesus did not take selfies with the Apostles. Instead, He kept trying to get people to stop talking about how He healed them with those calloused, carpenter’s hands.