“… the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” Tim Keller
One of the lessons I had to learn (and often relearn) is that self-consciousness interferes with my ability to give to others. This is especially true when it comes to public speaking. The moment we start over-thinking about ourselves, we lose sight of the people we can impact. It becomes more about us than them, undermining the blessing we’re meant to be. A humble attitude is what keeps us focused on God and others; drawing out attention away from ourselves.
So, how do we cultivate a humble attitude?
Seek satisfaction in God
When I feel empty and in need, I struggle to walk in humility. Have you found the same to be true? I’m becoming more convinced that the fastest way to live a life of humility is to find soul satisfaction in what God has done for us through Jesus.
I’m reminded of David’s words, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:5-6, 11 ESV)
Time and again, David ran to the fullness of God to make up for what his life lacked. Though David was a man with flaws and weaknesses, over the arch of his life, he became one who found his ultimate satisfaction in the goodness of God. A heart that is satisfied with God will naturally create the virtue of humility.
Live from acceptance, not for it
Humility is also a by-product of having a sense of security with who we are. I’ve touched on this already, but it’s important to clearly state it. When we receive Christ in our hearts, we change positions in the invisible realm, altering our orientation with the visible. What I mean is that before we receive Christ, how we live will determine our verdict in this life. Our performance is directly tied to our value. However, once we receive Christ, we’re given a verdict far superior to anything we could ever earn. The One who was sinless, perfect, and spotless, stepped into our sin and brokenness on the cross and paid the price for us to be declared in right standing with God. This is why Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the scriptures. It begins by declaring, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Over-familiarity may cause us to take this verse for granted, but it basically means we’re no longer under trial. And rather than living our lives to earn a good verdict, we’re free to live out of the highest verdict we could receive.
Attitude is a by-product
We’ll know our soul is being impacted by these realities when our attitude starts to shift. It will shift from self-centered to others-focused. From desperation to gratitude. From fear-driven busy work to courageous undertakings. We start becoming people who are generous with our encouragement of others.
Sometimes we may experience this shift all at once, or we may shift forward and then get tugged backwards. But over the long haul, the Lord will grow us into people who exhibit an attitude that increasingly reflects the goodness and kindness of God. Perhaps this is why Paul connected the dots for the Philippians the way he did.
“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:1-5 ESV)
The irony of the attitude of humility is that we cultivate it when we focus on what is fueling our attitudes rather than the attitude itself. Then we discover the beautiful gift of forgetting ourselves as we lift up everyone around us.