humility - greg qualls

The First Step Towards Humility

I’m pretty full of myself…it’s hard not to be…get it?  But really, I think about myself A LOT.  I think about what others think about me.  I think about what others are saying about me.  I think about how I can impress others.  I think about how to make people like me.  I think about what people think about what I said.  I think about what people think when I don’t say anything.  I think about what people think when I do something for them.

My holy trinity is me, myself, and I.

It’s for this reason that I’m constantly fighting with pride in its many nuanced forms…self esteem, self promotion, self-deprecation, self-protection, self-preservation, self-actualization, self-absorption, self-glorification, self-defense, self-gratification, self-help, self-indulgence, self-justification, self-loathing, self-motivation, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, selfishness, and there are probably hundreds more…but that is all I could find on google with the word “self” in the search.

I know I’m full of myself, because I’ve had people confront me about it over the years.  I’ve, “had a chip on my shoulder.” I, “talk about myself a lot.” I, “always have to one-up people.”

It’s for this reason that I’m always looking for a way to pursue humility.  I know my weakness is pride.  So how do I become humble? If there was a 12 step program for prideaholics, what would be the first step?

It’s this journey towards humility that recently lead me to a simple breath prayer that I’ve practiced every day.  Every day I try to pray several times, “Jesus.  In your humility, help me to see other as better than myself.”  The format of this prayer comes from Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

Now there is so much in this verse and prayer that could be applied to my life to learn humility, but there is one thing that finally stood out to me.  There is one thing that I finally realized is the first step towards humility.

I was in the shower practicing my breath prayer when my mind and heart focused in on one part of the prayer…help me to see others.  I couldn’t get that one portion out of my head.  I kept repeating it like a bad 80’s song that get’s stuck in your head.

My pastor recently quoted Brennan Manning in one of his sermons.

“Humble men and women do not have a low opinion of themselves, they have no opinion of themselves. The heart of humility lies in undivided attention to God.”
–  Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

It was in that moment that God showed what the first step to humility.

The first step to humility is to take my eyes off myself and to see God and to see others.

When we are caught up in pride, everything is about us.  We are blind to everyone around us…including God.  We might acknowledge their presence, but its only to the extent that they can serve our needs.  It’s all about me, myself, and I.

God is no longer the One worthy of all our worship.  Instead he becomes our personal improvement coach.  He is there to make us a better human being. Everyone else is relegated to place of tools in our life.  We dehumanize everyone to simple the thought of, “What can they do for me?”

The first step to humility is to get our eyes off ourselves.  It isn’t about us.  We need to change our focus to those that are around us.  We need to “see others.”  We need to give, “undivided attention to God.”

I can tell you it isn’t easy to change from “me, myself, and I” to “God and others.”  It is not something that can be achieved outside of the cross of Jesus.  It’s why C.J. Mahaney has consistently said:

I am not a humble man. I am a proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God.

It is only through the grace of God that we are able to take our eyes off ourselves.  We obtain humility through Jesus.  Jesus was the most humble man who ever lived.  Everything he did was for the glory of the Father.  Everything he did was for the salvation of mankind.  He humbled himself…to death.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8 ESV)

Through his humility, we now have the ability to have the same mindset.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:5 ESV)

It’s for this reason that we can now take our eyes off ourselves.  We are like the blind men who Jesus healed.  When we are healed from pride, the first thing we see is Jesus, and the second is everyone around us.

Jesus open our eyes that we might see you.  Open our eyes so we might see those around us.