Monday, July 25, 2005

Being a Man of Humility

By Maurice Blumberg

I once asked a group of men whether being a “man of humility” was a high priority in their lives. The answer for the most part was a resounding “No.” To help better understand why there were so many negative responses, we did a word association. “OK men, what words come to mind when you hear the word humility?” Although there were a few positive associations put forth, most of them were negative. Here are some of the word associations that were suggested: weak, wimpy, timid, doormat, meek, low self-image, low self-esteem, shy, quiet, and unassuming.

Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines humility as “the quality or state of being humble; absence of pride or self-assertion” and humble as

“1. not proud or haughty, not arrogant or assertive,

2. reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission,

3. ranking low in some hierarchy or scale, insignificant, unpretentious.”

No wonder humility is not a character trait that men typically seek after. We certainly think these are important attributes of saints or full-time clergy or other “Religious.” But as men who are deeply enmeshed in the daily battles of life (and our families) –no thanks. But why is this so? Perhaps, it is because humility often gets confused with being weak-willed or timid or feeling bad about ourselves. But I believe that as we come to more clearly understand the meaning of true humility, we will see that it reflects strength of character, not weakness of character.So let’s try to get our arms around “true humility,” especially from a Christian perspective and let’s see if it is a character trait that is masculine and one that men should seek after.

Here are what I believe are ten attributes of true humility:

True humility enables us to honestly recognize whom we are as finite humans compared to the infinite majesty of God (i.e., who we are relative to who God is). It allows us to see ourselves as God sees us.

True humility is not a matter of downcast weakness but of a strong determination to let God work in and through us, not by our own power but by the working of his power—not by our wisdom but according to the wisdom of his plans and purposes.

True humility frees us from pretense and delusion about ourselves; it strips away whatever would mask our identity as God’s beloved children.

True humility allows us to see our sins and weaknesses and still know Jesus’ overwhelming love for us.

True humility recognizes that all of our talents, virtues, and gifts come from God.

True humility allows the Lord to strip away any sense that we are the sole authors of our lives.

True humility allows the Lord to empty us of self-determination so that we can live in obedience to his will and his commands. And the more we are emptied of self-love, the more we can let Jesus’ light shine through us.

True humility frees us to do the works of God to bring glory to Jesus not to ourselves.

True humility leads us to lay down our lives for others—especially those in our family and those in need—and to do so boldly.

True humility tries to point others to Jesus and not to ourselves.

Scriptures and Humility The Bible also has a lot to say about humility. Here are some scriptures that tie humility to wisdom:
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Here are some scriptures that tie humility to honor:
Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 22:4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.The bible also distinguishes between false humility, which is a form of pride, and true humility (see Colossians 2:18-23).Growing as a Man of Humility.

Did you notice that none of the attributes of humility listed above, or the Scripture references, reflect weakness of character, but actually reflect strength of character? Also, none of the attributes or Scripture references has anything to do with being weak or wimpy. On the contrary, humility is a very masculine attribute as it was for Jesus and John the Baptist (see article in this e-zine called “John the Baptist, A Man of Humility”).

As you review and reflect on the attributes of humility, ask the Lord to show you which ones he wants you to develop more deeply in your own life. I’d suggest starting with two or three that strike you as applying most to you. Then define some steps you can take to incorporate that attribute into your everyday life. Pray each day for the grace and strength to be faithful to your plans. You may be surprised in how the Lord works in your life and transforms you more and more into his image and likeness, that is, into a man of humility.


Christlike humility has been called the “queen of virtues” because through it we are freed from self-centeredness and compelled to love God and neighbor. The humble of heart know that nothing can separate us from the love of God except our own stubborn pride and willfulness.As you ask the Lord in prayer to help you grow in true humility, don’t be surprised when he asks you to be both humble and bold, especially as you point other people to Jesus and not to yourself. Don’t be surprised to see Jesus’ life increasing in you. For as you decrease, Jesus’ life in you will surely increase.“Lord Jesus, I surrender my life into your hands knowing how dependent I am on you for everything. I ask for the grace and the strength to be more like you. Help me to see myself as you see me. May you increase in me so that I may draw others to you.”

Questions for Reflection/Discussion
1. What has always been your view of the attribute of humility (for example, positive versus negative)? Has this article changed your understanding of the attribute of humility? Why or Why not? Is it something you have sought to have more of? Why or why not?
2. Of the 10 attributes of humility listed in the article, which two or three stand out as something the Lord may want to increase in your life? Explain why.
3. Share with the men in your group some steps you feel you can take to develop further the attribute of humility in your life.
4. What does the phrase “He must increase. I must decrease” (John 3:30) mean to you? Why is this important?
5. Consider saying the prayer at the end of the “Being a Man of Humility” article each day (or as often as you can) and share the fruits of that prayer at the next men’s group meeting.

The following article is taken from the Catholic Men's E-Zine for May-June 2002. This online publication is produced by the National Resource Center for Catholic Men.


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