Humility ≠ Humiliation

Man looking humbly at mountain and sun
Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash

It seems okay to pray for those around us to be humbled.

God humbles us. He does so in His perfect timing, not ours.

But it’s human nature to pray for our own humility. It seems equally natural, when one experiences humility, to want the same for others, especially when we see them frozen in pride, or even arrogance.

But we should be cautious not to pray for their humiliation. It might happen on its own, but it’s not the same as being humbled.

I think back to most of the times I’ve been humbled. I rarely humbled myself. I was humbled – by God, nature, others, I had to be humbled, because I was too blind to humble myself. That’s the nature of pride: blindness.

Most of those humbling events didn’t humiliate me. Thankfully. Despite whatever pain they did cause, though, they ended up being for my good.

That is the prayer I have for others: that they experience a similar humbling so they can become better partners, parents, people.

When frustrated by someone’s pride, remember they are blind to it.

It’s also human nature to want them to feel as frustrated one day as the frustration they cause. But that’s asking for their humiliation and few deserve that. Remember to pray in love, unceasingly, for your own humility first, then humility for others, but never humiliation.

Humility is a restoration, a growth, a recognition of our status in relation to the forces of life which govern us or can not be changed, most notably, God, but also the laws of physics, the passage of time, the brevity of life, the fickleness of humanity, the rules of money, the way of man, the opinions of others, the weather, the barking of a dog, the remembrance of the past.

We do well to live in humility and remember our place, to understand our limited impact, to love without judgment, and to live quietly and steadily. This is challenge enough for most.

We don’t need more humiliation. Be encouraging, be available. Be humble.

Watch out for the noise of this world: “make an impact”, “speak your mind”, “brand yourself”, “make a difference”, “lead by example”, “grow your audience”, “be an authentic voice”, and so on. They can quickly devolve into noise, chaos, even violence. Twitter is full of that noise. Everyone talking, no one listening.

Make an impact on oneself first. Keep humiliation far from one’s heart and tongue. Focus on being a good follower first – of truth, wisdom, love, mercy, and fortitude. Leadership may come – or not. Seek it not.

What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.

The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.

All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.

There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven.

It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11, 13-15, 17-18