Working on humility to bring us to holiness



I don’t know if your life is like mine, but I find, on a consistent basis throughout my life, that there is something put in front of me that I can’t seem to step over or move aside. It seems to stop me in my tracks and demands my attention. As much as I try, I can’t seem to escape its insistence. It says to me, “Pay attention. This is important. This can’t be ignored.” It is as though it is another piece of the puzzle called holiness that I must have in order to get the whole picture.

In the last few months, the flag in my face is not only red and waving fiercely, but it has the word humility written on it in big, bold letters. In my heart, I know this is a signaling of the Spirit. It is not as though I have not thought about this virtue before, and even held it in prayer for some time, but it has again made an appearance. So I’m sure there is so much more to be revealed. One thing I know for sure is this call to humility is meant for all, and it is not an easy road to travel. This road has many twists, turns, road blocks and blind spots; but it also has wonderful destinations along the way and, hopefully, the end of trip leads to a glorious final resting place.

I think back to my childhood and can clearly see the foundation my parents laid for me to begin this life-long journey. Even though I was unaware and didn’t think much about the guidance of my parents, I can see clearly now that they were, indeed, introducing me to elements of humility. My parents always encouraged me to do my best – but they never insisted that I had to be the best, or was the best, unless it was a valid assertion. They were honest about things; that was their promise, and that they were!

My parents grounded us in the reality that we were no better than anyone else and that people just live in different ways – often dictated by circumstance. By example, they taught us that we should look out for others and do what we could to help others if they were struggling in some way. The last thing, which I thought that really helped me in so many situations, was to learn that criticism is not necessarily a bad thing. Criticism coming from a place of love and delivered in a way that is respectful can promote positive growth and move you to where you are being called.

I hope I have grown into living these lessons while recognizing that there is so much I have yet to learn about humility. Throughout Scripture, we see the beauty of humility lived out; but we also are confronted with the harsh realities of individuals and communities that are prideful and arrogant, and we see the real destruction that naturally follows.

John the Baptist provides us with a model of true humility. John understands who he is, his role in the world and who Christ was in his life. His words, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30), remind us poignantly that this life is not “about us,” and we are being called to so much more.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, our society tells us that this is not the case – that, in reality, it must be about us! C.S. Lewis tells us, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” What an important thing to keep in front of us as we strive for holiness. All the saints possessed this wisdom and allowed it to guide them.

As I continue my pursuit of a deeper understanding of how to be a more humble person, I turn to St. Benedict’s Rule. In chapter seven, he provides 12 steps of humility. Please consider joining my pursuit; allow St. Benedict to provide practical practices that may lead us to kinder, gentler and more loving families, communities and society.