It would seem incorrect to conclude this series on “Like a Child” without talking about humility, since “humbling oneself like a child” is specifically identified by Jesus as a key to the Kingdom.
Humility. This virtue has often eluded me. Because, thinking less of (or thinking down on) oneself is not necessarily being humble. More often than not, that way of thinking results in some kind of false humility, self-abasement, or a refusal to use God-given gifts or talents for fear of being seen as “proud.” We know the pattern.
This one statement about humility has helped me tremendously: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (C.S. Lewis).
So, when I spend time thinking about myself, even when the thoughts are not about how good, but how ‘not good’ I am, I am not being humble. The focus is still on me! A humble attitude is one that understands that it is “not about me!” Humble or not, excellent or not, good-looking or not, worthy or not… all that does not really matter. Other people are more important; other people deserve my attention more than I deserve it for myself.
But talk about a ‘catch-22’ dilemma! If I try harder to be humble, I will be focusing more on myself. And that is the opposite of humility! O my.
What about children? Humility is not a trait that we quickly associate with childhood. Children can actually seem to be very ‘proud’ — or give that impression through boastful words. They are also egocentric, viewing things only from their own perspective. Yet Jesus said that children are humble. Hmm.
On second thought, it is true that young children are too busy with life to sit down and start wondering what other people think of them. When a child does boast, it is often not about himself but about his Daddy or Mommy. And a child knows very well that he or she is not ‘all grown up.’ He does not think of himself “more highly than he ought.”
A young child is also highly dependent on adults – he realizes that he cannot manage to do things by himself, and definitely needs help. A child’s view of himself and his abilities is realistic. . .
So maybe children are humble, after all. And maybe we do not often imagine them to be so because we tend to misunderstand this virtue to start with.
Whatever the case, the Word exhorts us ‘be completely humble.’ Gracious Father, I need your help with that!