“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
I have had several opportunities to think about humility lately, both in more personal and in more “intellectual” contexts. I find the above quote so helpful for working through this concept, and I think it offers great insight into how we can best cultivate this Christ-honored virtue in our individual lives.
As soon as the topic of humility comes up in any conversation, one of the first questions that seems always to rise to the surface is that of “false humility,” namely, is humility really just self-deprecation, or as C. S. Lewis puts it, “pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools”? I think the answer to this question is a resounding “no,” not least because I believe the God who calls us to cultivate humility also values truth so highly that He identifies himself with it, as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
In fact, false humility (or self-depreciation, or whatever else you want to call it) is really just another form of pride in disguise—in sheep’s clothing, if you like. If pride is a too-great concern with one’s own worth in the eyes of others, it can take many different forms. On the one hand, arrogance can be seen as an overly inflated sense of one’s own worth, and an insistence on the recognition and the positive valuation that others can give. On the other hand, false humility is just as determined as is arrogance to pin one’s own worth on his or her accomplishments (or lack thereof) and to insist that others either agree with or try to pull one up out of his or her chosen, “lowly” status.
By contrast, true humility does away with all these artificial questions of worth. In the imitation of the One who placed such high value on every individual that He came to earth to offer each one the opportunity of eternal life, the humble Christian has no need to worry over precisely where he or she stands in the valuation of others. Another way of thinking about this is to say that true humility is, at its core, about the direction in which one’s mind’s eye is focused. We are not looking down upon others in order to raise ourselves. We are not looking down at ourselves in order to force others to lift us up. Rather, we are looking both outwards and upwards in love and trust, “not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.”
~ LaRae ~