I’ve been in the process of writing this for a while, but then the other day I witnessed a total mental breakdown on a meme someone posted on their wall – it was pretty cringeworthy, and so I figured I better get this out there sooner rather than later…because, yikes.
Humility is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately – before Kendrick Lamar told me to. Despite the catchy track – I feel like humility is something people get wrong…even Kendrick.
Not surprising – Jesus’ life is the absolute best example of humility we have. He was a King, and he let people treat him like dirt – without taking offense. He was the Savior, and he washed the feet of others. He was GOD, and came to earth to serve others. His life radiates humility, and something tells me Kendrick missed the point when his new track points us all directly back to Kendrick.
Is it just me, or is it like totally ironic that a song titled Humble – is all about how great the artist is? (Which, I get it, I think that was the whole point).
My advice? Let’s not take our advice from Kendrick Lamar. I went to the source. Here’s what I believe God wants us to know about humility.
Here’s the spark notes: inflated ego/sense of self = inflated perception of Worldview = easily takes offense at things that call into question said worldview.
To me – this is something not many people would consider when contemplating humility, but it’s one of the first things Jesus revealed to me. We live in a World where people are offended by everything. Like – doesn’t matter what color Starbucks makes their holiday cups – someone is pissed about it, and someone is going to write an article about how we should boycott Starbucks because the specific green they have chosen is offensive.
How are taking offense and being humble pretty much cousins? Essentially – ego and over inflated sense of self. It’s pretty tough to be humble when you’re so wrapped up in you. Pretty hard to humble yourself before God and others when the only one that matters is you.
Taking offense means that you’re taking something personally. Like when you can’t help but get offended by that random friend who posts stuff you don’t agree with on Facebook? That’s your ego letting you know that what they said is threatening to the identity you’ve cultivated for yourself. That’s your ego telling you that your opinion is more “right”, that the way YOU view things is more “accurate”, and that what you think is more important. This is also a little self-righteous. Now, you may not realize that all this is happening when you read a dumb status, but I guarantee any offense that you face is rooted deep inside your over inflation of self importance. Not once do we see Jesus get offended in the Bible – even when He was treated like a criminal. His response? “God forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
You see – if you’ve made a life for yourself where you really are the most important thing about it – offense will lurk around every corner. Because the world is teeming with people that don’t agree with you, who don’t view things through your lens, who don’t have the same values as you, who will call into question your identity. So yeah, when your identity is rooted in you – your ego does everything it can to protect it.
When you’re the center of your world, it’s hard to NOT be offended when someone calls your world into question. Offense will almost become your default – you’ll be looking for it. Like I once was. When people didn’t agree with me – I felt offended (whether or not I showed it). Often times this lead to me trying to MAKE people see things the way I did, which as I’m sure you know – not a great approach to any sort of relationship.
Essentially, one of the first ways to truly humble yourself is to take yourself out of the center of your world, and let offense slip past you. This is hard work. It’s really not easy. But everyday I’m reminding myself that none of this life is about me, my identity can’t be shaken by the opinions of others – because my identity is in Christ…not myself. So when people offend me I have to remember that it’s just not about ME – despite my ego telling me that it is. Even when people direct their offense directly at me – it’s ultimately not about me. It’s a product of perception and differing opinion. And because I don’t have to rely on my own truths – my World doesn’t crumble when someone doesn’t agree with me.
Believing We Deserve
Summary: We don’t deserve anything – and our belief that we do leads us to offense and pride.
The opposite of humility in this case is pride.
This one has been a hard one for me to wrestle with. Mainly because everything in society is telling me differently. But essentially in order to live a life of humility we have to eradicate the belief that we deserve anything.
I have a lot of friends who are probably throwing up their hands at me right now, because we’re taught that we deserve a lot of things in this life. We’re taught that if we work hard that we deserve that job promotion, or we deserve financial freedom. We’re taught that we deserve what we desire. You want a husband and kids? Go for it – you deserve to have that. You want fame or money? Work harder – because you deserve to get what you want.
Honestly – it even stems all the way to the belief that we deserve to be treated a certain way by others. We deserve to be respected, and when that’s threatened – we’re offended. Even the idea that we deserve to be valued, like we deserve for other people to notice our value – and when they don’t we’re offended, or let down, or hurt. I hate to say it – but none of that speaks to humility.
Humility is understanding value in Christ – and when you know that – the opinions of others become less important, and the search for acceptance gets put on the back burner.
I always think about David when I start thinking I deserve anything, or that I’m too “big” for a task. David had been told he was going to be King at a young age. Many of us would start to believe that because we’re going to be royalty – that we can’t be bothered by menial tasks…but not David. David KNEW his future – it had been promised to him. And yet, he served, he labored, he did the b*$% work (charlie work if you will)…and not once did he remind people of who he was, or what his future was. He just did it. He just followed God. This story of David always reminds me that there is literally no work in this World that is too small for me – none of it compromises my identity or my value – that’s already been set.
The truth is – we don’t DESERVE anything. We don’t deserve the desires of our heart, we don’t deserve the future we work for, we don’t even really deserve for people to view us as valuable. This has probably gotten pretty offensive for some people, probably because I’m calling into question your worldview. I’m negating almost everything society tells us. But, the gospel is clear. The only thing we really deserve is death, and Jesus paid the price for that. Humility is understanding this. Now, it doesn’t mean you don’t still work hard, have goals, and expect to be treated well – it just means you look at life from the perspective of the cross.
Disclaimer – no one deserves abuse, if you are experiencing emotional or physical abuse – please know that I’m not saying you should stay in that situation or that the other person isn’t wrong or that you don’t deserve to be hurt by that. Being a victim of abuse and practicing humility are two very different things, and I urge you to put up the necessary boundaries to get yourself out of that situation.
Abstract: Humility is forgiveness regardless.
The opposite of humility in this case is bitterness and resentment.
Humility is forgiving people always, regardless of what they have done, or what they haven’t done. It is forgiveness without an apology. It is NOT always reconciliation or reconnection…let me just make that clear. It’s the recognition that we ALL fall short, and that we ALL fail and make mistakes. It is the daily process of literally taking a person or situation “off the hook”. Because lets be real – how many times has God covered our offense? Every single time.
I see a lot of people (myself included – been there, done that) who pray for forgiveness, but harbor bitterness and resentment towards others. If you’re truly experiencing the grace of God it should be pouring over into your relationships. A person who feels truly forgiven by God – understands that they are no more “good” than the person in their life that needs forgiveness. We all need forgiveness and grace every single day – and to withhold forgiveness from someone means that we believe we get to judge who and what gets forgiven…doesn’t work that way. And again, doesn’t it sound a bit self-righteous to believe that we hold the power to decide those things that require a grudge be held, and what things don’t. Good news is – it is all equal in God’s eyes, and therefore it can all be forgiven.
That doesn’t mean that forgiveness is easy. It may be a process, and that’s okay – because we’re human. But practicing daily forgiveness reminds us that we are no more special than anyone else in this world – we aren’t better than anyone. We all desperately need the grace and forgiveness of God.
It’s NOT about Insecurity
Back to Kendrick…I was listening his full CD and another line about humility came up in a different song, and I literally laughed out loud…because it was just so ridiculous. He says “I can’t fake humble just because your ass is insecure”. Haha. Okay, so first of all – you can’t fake humility…just throwing that out there. That’s like the biggest oxymoron ever.
But anyway, it got me thinking about the flawed ideology that being humble lives on the back of our insecurities. Like in order to be humble you better remember just how crappy you really are. Which is just bananas (yesss I just spelt it out like Gwen Stefani). Humility is the ultimate form of confidence. Humility isn’t about knocking yourself down a peg – it’s about switching to a completely different playing field. It’s having sincere confidence in your identity in Christ, and His truths. It’s not about the constant reminder of your faults – just so you don’t get too big for your britches. It’s about the realization that you can be confident in knowing NONE of this is about you. It’s about confidence in God’s promises. It’s about confidence in the talents that God has given you. Humility is literally about confidence in EVERY situation and circumstance. Dude, humility is sexy. Okay? I don’t know how else to say it.
Also, humility shouldn’t be used for manipulation. Kendrick refers to using humility to make someone feel better about themselves. Ohmigosh, my codependent flags are seriously flashing, but regardless – our humility shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip.
And to my Christian Homies…
Okay, dear Christian brothers and sisters – can I just remind you that God does not NEED our protection? Our job isn’t to force our ideology on those who don’t claim Christianity – it is to present and spread the gospel. It is to make disciples. BUT – we are not body guards for God. When someone posts or says or lives in any way that is contradictory to our beliefs – our job isn’t to condemn them, our job isn’t to be God’s protector in those situations. Our job is to love.
I think people get this verse confused – “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault” (Matt 18:15). This verse is referring to a BROTHER or SISTER in Christ – aka – someone who has accepted the same truths you have. This doesn’t mean – everyone on your facebook feed that disagrees with you. In fact – the Bible talks about how we can’t expect people who don’t claim Christianity to live and breathe by our standards or truths…that would be ridiculous, but I see a lot of people making it their mission to call non-believers out for things those people don’t even believe in.
Create relationship. Love hard. And maybe stop taking on the role of God’s watch dog?
This all just scratches the surface of humility. But essentially it all just means dying to yourself daily, sometimes – with the right kind of drivers on the road, it might mean by the minute. Humility isn’t a journey you take alone, it’s one that begs God be invited in on – for the belief that you can be humble by your own action is again – quite the oxymoron.
Can I just say – I’m not new. I realize rap artists say things all the time for the sake of a song – and it’s not necessarily their personal belief. I actually like Kendrick Lamar, and I’ve been enjoying his new CD – so I don’t need any diehards getting offended by this.
If you do find yourself offended by this blog post…I suggest you start again from the top.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.