Four Things That Seem Humble but Aren’t

Recognizing False Humility in Our Daily Lives.

Humility is a virtue highly esteemed in Christian life. However, there are actions and attitudes that might appear humble on the surface but actually stem from pride or insecurity. Recognizing these can help us cultivate true humility, as Christ taught.

1. Downplaying Your Gifts and Achievements

It might seem humble to dismiss compliments or minimize your accomplishments, but this can often be a form of false humility. When we downplay our God-given gifts, we are not acknowledging the ways God works through us. Colossians 3:17 reminds us, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." By accepting our abilities and achievements, we honor God and His work in us.

A study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that genuine humility involves an accurate self-assessment and the recognition of one's abilities and achievements. It's about giving glory to God for the talents and opportunities He provides.

2. Reluctance to Accept Help

Refusing help from others might appear to be self-sufficient or humble, but it can be rooted in pride. Accepting help requires vulnerability and the recognition that we can't do everything on our own. Galatians 6:2 encourages us to "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Allowing others to assist us not only helps us but also allows them to exercise their gifts and grow in love and service.

3. Overworking and Not Taking Rest

Constantly working without taking time for rest can be seen as dedication, but it often stems from a desire to prove oneself or gain approval from others. True humility recognizes our limitations and our need for rest, as Jesus did. Mark 6:31 records Jesus saying, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Taking time to rest and recharge shows trust in God’s provision and timing.

According to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, overworking can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and various health issues. Rest is essential for maintaining our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

4. Avoiding Leadership Roles

Shying away from leadership roles because of fear or self-doubt can be mistaken for humility. However, when God calls us to lead, stepping up is an act of obedience, not pride. Moses initially resisted God’s call to lead Israel, feeling inadequate (Exodus 4:10-13). Yet, God equipped him for the task. True humility involves trusting God to use us according to His will, even when we feel unworthy or unprepared.

Cultivating True Humility

To foster genuine humility, we should:

  • Seek God’s Guidance: Pray for God to reveal areas of false humility in our lives and to help us cultivate true humility.

  • Embrace Vulnerability: Accept our need for others and be open to their support and encouragement.

  • Balance Work and Rest: Trust in God’s timing and provision by ensuring we take time to rest.

  • Step Up When Called: Be willing to take on roles and responsibilities that God places before us, trusting that He will equip us.


Recognizing and addressing false humility allows us to grow in genuine humility, aligning our actions with God’s will. As we seek to embody true humility, we reflect Christ’s love and grace more authentically in our lives.

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