Pride (Part IV): True Humility
by Todd Johansson
(Christian Boot Camp is a series of teachings on topics that cripple people and churches, such as pride, offense, anger, fear, self-righteousness, blame-shifting, enabling and victim mentality, just to name a few. These teachings—complete with accompanying slides, handouts, and other collaterals—can help your church get on the road to total health. The following article is a very short excerpt of the CBC teaching on the subject of Pride. Click here for Pride: Part I, Part II, and Part III. Contact ICWC for more details.]
Christian Boot Camp teaches that someone who walks in a lack of humility might think:
“It’s vital to me that others realize I am important. My impressive occupation, intelligence, taste in clothes, social status, charisma, car and other possessions, my longevity as a Christian, and my church role and distinguished reputation are all ways that allow me to display my importance. How are others ever going to see me as the important person I am if I don’t educate them through my parade of actions? Humility, to me, means that I’d have to lower myself to a loathsome social status that I’ve worked so hard to distance myself from. Simply put, humility works against everything I’m trying to accomplish: the promotion of my importance.”
You’ll notice that I titled this post True Humility. Why couldn’t I have just called it Humility? Well, that’s because there is an increasing worldview of humility that isn’t humility at all, but a false humility. Simply stated, false humility is pride masquerading itself as humility. How can you tell the difference? Real humility builds people up...false humility tears people down. For instance, when someone starts any sentence with, “I like that person, but…” that’s false humility. When someone professes their love for God and man, but their actions say otherwise, that’s false humility. And a person who can recite a scripture—but uses it in a way that puts others down—again, that’s false humility.
Dispelling Myths About True Humility—
You may be thinking, “So, if you’re teaching about humility, doesn’t that disqualify you, since anyone who was truly humble would never publicly admit to being knowledgeable about humility?” Let me answer that by asking you this: Was Jesus truly humble? If you answered, “Yes”, you would be right. Let me ask you another question: Did Jesus say, “Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart” (see Matt. 11:29)? If you answered, “Yes”, again you would be right. So, was it wrong of Jesus to publicly say that He is humble? Of course not. Because didn’t He also say, “I do not speak on My own. Instead the Father who sent Me told Me what I should say” (see John 12:49)?
And wasn’t it Moses who wrote the book of Numbers where he said in chapter 12 verse 3, “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth”? Was it wrong for him to say this? Let me answer that with a scripture: “All scripture is inspired by God” (see 2 Tim. 3:16). So, would Moses have been wrong by rejecting the leading of God to write this passage? Of course he would have been wrong to reject God's leading. If the Holy Spirit said that Moses was humble and inspired him to write it, it would have been sin if Moses would have responded by saying:
“What Are People Going to Think About Me?”
At the root of all PRIDE is this question: “What are people going to think about me?” For example, if you're bothered that the type of car you drive, clothes you wear, or neighborhood you live in are going to give others a negative image of you, then you’re definitely asking yourself, “What are people going to think about me?” Similarly, if you walk into a roomful of people and you’re embarrassed because all eyes are on you, the source of your embarrassment is rooted in the question, “What are people going to think about me?” That’s PRIDE.
Thinking Too Much About Self—
The great bible teacher, Andrew Wommack says, “PRIDE is simply thinking too much of yourself.” Do you think too much about yourself? If you’re not sure, here are ten telling signs:
- You’re quickly and easily bothered by other drivers.
- You feel the urge to constantly check social media for likes of your posts.
- You speak poorly about yourself, so others may form a humble opinion of you.
- You hide some faults from others, so they won’t lose their impression of you.
- You hear praise with satisfaction, or are glad when others speak well of you.
- You’re hurt when others are held in greater esteem than you.
- You feel proud that your career, possessions, appearance, church status, title, or academic achievements are envied.
- You argue your point when you are not right…and when you are right.
- You’re reluctant to take correction or advice.
- You have an itching need to tell others of your personal accomplishments.
The Marks of Someone Who Has True Humility—
I was watching a teaching one day by Joyce Meyer, who gave a list of the characteristics of someone who walks in true humility:
- Always ask for help when they need it.
- Don't insist that things be done their way.
- Are quick to forgive.
- Difficult to offend.
- Glad to wait on God for vindication.
- Patient with the weaknesses of others.
- They’re the first to make peace.
- Don’t talk too much—know when to be quiet.
- Can be corrected without defending themselves.
- Are teachable, regardless of how much they know.
- They instinctively ask the advice of others.
- Freely admit their flaws.
- Actively help others succeed.
- No job is beneath them.
- Don’t have a sense of entitlement.
- They don’t have to be right—they’re not bullies.
- Rejoice when others are celebrated.
- First to apologize.
3 Things True Humility Isn’t—
1. True Humility Doesn’t Mean a Negative Self Image. Religion teaches that we need to dishonor ourselves. But putting yourself down and saying negative things about yourself isn’t true humility at all. C.S. Lewis said it best: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.
2. True Humility Doesn’t Mean Denying Your Strengths. I’ve been a musician for many years. For me to tell others that I’m a bad musician simply wouldn’t be truthful. But telling others that I have limitations as a musician is a better, more self-loving assessment. Rick Warren says, “Humility isn’t denying your strengths. It’s being honest about your weaknesses.”
3. True Humility Isn’t Something God Wants to Give You. I’m sure many of you thought you read this wrong. The truth is, God doesn’t want to be the One to humble you (and trust me, you don’t want God to humble you...it could get messy). But instead, He wants you to humble yourself: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).”
3 Things True Humility Is—
1. Thinking of Yourself in Third Person. Not sure what third person is? Sure you do. Jesus spoke of Himself in third person often. Ever read where Jesus referred to Himself as, “The Son of Man”? Jesus rarely—when referring to Himself—used personal pronouns such as I, Me, My, Myself, etc. In fact, He referred to Himself as The Son of Man 32 times in Matthew, 15 times in Mark, 26 times in Luke, and 12 times in John.
2. Obeying God, Regardless of Our Preferences. To this, you might be saying, “I do obey God! I, go to church, pray and read the bible!” Okay, so let’s take reading the bible. Reading the bible is great! Every true follower of Jesus should read the bible. But if you’re reading the bible, but picking and choosing what you want to obey, that's not full on obedience. It's like telling my wife that I'm mostly faithful to her. Simply put, Jesus said in John 14:23, “Those who love Me obey Me.”
3. Becoming Like a Child. No, I didn’t say, "Becoming Childish." God wants us to depend on Him. Not on our job, not on our own wisdom, not on our bank account or social status—but truly depend on Him for everything we need. Jesus tells us in Matt. 18:3-4 “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
God wants us to live a life of humility. And Jesus was our greatest example of how to do this. PRIDE will alienate us from God and from people. True humility draws us closer to God and people. How will you respond to God’s desire for you to walk in true humility? Will you...(ahem)...obey?
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