What Humility is Not

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“The more guilt and shame that we have buried within ourselves, the more compelled we feel to seek relief through sin. As we fixate our jaded motives and soiled conscience, our self-esteem sinks, and in a pernicious leap of logic, we think that we are finally learning humility.

“On the contrary, a poor self-image reveals a lack of humility. Feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, inferiority, and self-hatred rivet our attention on ourselves. Humble men and women do not have a low opinion of themselves; they have no opinion of themselves, because they so rarely think about themselves. The heart of humility lies in undivided attention to God, a fascination with his beauty revealed in creation, a contemplative presence to each person who speaks to us, and a “de-selfing” of our plans, projects, ambitions, and soul. Humility is manifested in an indifference to our intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being and a carefree disregard of the image we present. No longer concerned with appearing to be good, we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are, aware of the sovereignty of God and of our absolute insufficiency and yet moved by a spirit of radical self-acceptance without concern.

“Humble people are without pretense, free from any sense of spiritual superiority, and liberated from the need to be associated with persons of importance. The awareness of their spiritual emptiness does not disconcert them. Neither overly sensitive to criticism nor inflated by praise, they recognize their brokenness, acknowledge their gifts, and refuse to take themselves seriously.”

–Brennan Manning

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