Unmasking False Humility: Four Ways We Miss the Mark

In our walk of faith, there’s a virtue we all aspire to achieve – humility. And as the Good Book tells us, God exalts the humble. However, the journey to genuine humility is riddled with pitfalls, with many well-intentioned believers inadvertently veering off course.

Remember Benjamin Franklin’s noble journey to virtue? When aiming to cultivate 12 virtues, he overlooked humility until it was pointed out. Even after embracing the 13th virtue, he confessed that while he mastered the appearance of humility, internalizing it was another ball game.

Humility, as the wise C. S. Lewis once pointed out, isn’t about thinking less of yourself. It’s about “thinking of yourself less.” It’s a selfless focus on others. However, in a world that thrives on self-promotion, sometimes even our best efforts at humility go astray.

Let’s examine four ways our attempts at humility might actually be far from it:

  1. The Humble Brag: This is when one combines a boast with a self-deprecating comment, intending to appear humble. For example, saying “People find me strange because I use intellectual words.” The underlying message? “I’m exceptionally intelligent!” When we engage in humble-bragging, we might deceive others, but God sees our hearts.
  2. Misusing “Humbled”: Declaring we’re humbled by an achievement or attention can be misleading. Saying, “I’m so humbled by the praise for my work” might seem right, but it could be a disguised way of drawing more attention to oneself. True humility doesn’t need to announce itself.
  3. Declining Compliments: Authentic humility doesn’t mean belittling oneself. If someone praises us, responding with “Oh, it’s nothing” or “I look awful today” can be a sign of pride, not humility. Humble hearts can accept compliments graciously.
  4. Misdirecting Praise: As believers, giving God the glory for our achievements is crucial. But using phrases like, “It was just the Lord working through me” can sometimes come off as disingenuous. It’s essential to strike a balance. Recognizing our talents as God-given allows us to glorify Him genuinely.

Real humility, the kind that resonates with God’s heart, is a beautiful thing. If you desire to embody it, focus less on appearing humble and more on genuinely uplifting and serving others. As Jesus taught us, the greatest among us is the servant of all.