Spiritual Discipline: Humility
Updated: May 11
This is the second discipline in the series. We will meet tomorrow to talk about how the first discipline practice went and how we are all doing. Or you can just follow along with the blog and reflect on your own. We will look at the next discipline in two weeks.
And I would love to hear your reflections on your humility practice. One day, I will figure out how to get comments on this blog. Until then feel free to email me at email@example.com or join our small group that meets every other Tuesday at 6 pm!
Humility is an interesting practice for me, as someone who prefers not to be noticed and not to stand out but who also does, like all people, want to feel valued and important, like I have a purpose and a place and something to offer. Calhoun points out in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook that humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves or denying ourselves the impact of our achievements. Humility requires us to make an honest assessment of ourselves and to stay rooted in our internal being rather than looking at ourselves through the eyes of others. We can feel our value without needing to be valued necessarily by others.
Humbleness that is rooted in a lack of self-love isn't true humility. So I'll be wrestling with that these next two weeks, thinking about how to be humble but also treasuring of myself. Whether you're coming at it from a similar perspective or one of needing to choose downward mobility because you love being loved too much, I hope that you will find an exercise here for you.
Choose to serve someone else this week anonymously. You might choose to help someone by cleaning, giving them a gift, or fixing a mistake they made but do this task without any expectation of acknowledgment or receiving anything in return, only out of love. Refrain from sharing that you did this service. Reflect on how this feels. What is it like for only God to know?
Spend some time intentionally listening to how you speak about yourself to others. Do you exaggerate your own accomplishments to put yourself in a better light? Do you try to point out good qualities about yourself through your language? Do you talk about how you already know this or that or so-and-so? Do you feel the need to correct others when you feel like they are wrong? Journal about what you discover.
For some of us, putting ourselves down is more of a habit than building ourselves up. What do you think a practice of humility means for those of us who struggle with self-esteem? Where is the balance between not sounding a trumpet for yourself but also not completely diminishing yourself? If you often put yourself down. Spend some time thinking about how that sounds to others and what it means. Journal about what you discover.
These days we are coming back to presenting ourselves to each other in person. How do you present yourself? What would it feel like to present yourself in ways that don't draw attention, reflect your fashion prowess, or present a certain image of yourself that isn't what you truly are or how you truly feel. What would it feel like to dress differently? Consider wearing out what you would wear at home when you aren't making a public appearance. How does that feel?
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)