Putting others first

Putting others first

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honour. – Proverbs 15:33

During a large chunk of my time in school, I was one of the quietest, least confident children. Aged 12, I came out of mainstream school, started home schooling and within months I found the person inside me that I had been hiding and protecting for all those years. That person was fun, silly, loud and enjoyed doing things that the majority people find boring or uncool. For a while, I battled with whether I should be the new me that I loved or the me I thought people wanted me to be. If I suppressed myself, I wasn’t happy, but if I allowed myself to talk about the things I enjoyed, do the things I wanted to do and generally be me, I was worried people would say I was arrogant. But I wasn’t those things (As far as I know), I was just happy to be me and to some people, that across as overly confident.

Confidence is a bit like marmite – some of us are drawn to confidence and others are put off by it as it can come across as arrogant. I have mixed feelings when it comes to being around confident people. If they are confident and brag about it (e.g. ‘I am the greatest! I am the greatest thing that ever lived!’ – Muhammed Ali), I am put off, but if they are confident in themselves, their abilities AND humble, they are probably one of the people I spend most of my time with.

Whether you find confidence attractive or not, I think we can all agree that a genuinely humble person is always attractive.

Pride puts us at risk of humiliation, but it also hinders generosity. Humility leads to loving others as we love ourselves.’Stewardship 40acts Study Guide quote

We know God wants us to be humble and that others around us are drawn to humility, but how do we go about becoming more humble? Here are 3 steps to humility, taken from this week’s group study guide for 40acts:

  1. Read the bible: By reading the bible we get to know God and are reminded of how small we are in God’s creation. Ants are tiny to us, but we are tiny to someone who is looking at the Earth from space. Another way of doing this is to go for a walk and take in the size of the trees, the buildings, and the expanse of the skies and seas around you. Take in their magnificence and make yourself aware of how tiny you are in the world because when we see ourselves as small, it is harder to be arrogant.
  2. Avoid the proud, seek out the humble: It is said that we are the product of the 5 people we spend the most time with and are most influenced by. By avoiding people who are proud, and spending more time with people who act humbly, we are more likely to practice humility in our lives too. ‘If we are to grow in love, the prisons of our egoism must be unlocked. This implies suffering, constant effort and repeated choices.’ – Jean Vanier
  3. Put humility into practice: ‘Don’t work yourself into the spotlight; don’t push your way into the place of prominence.It’s better to be promoted to a place of honor than face humiliation by being demoted.’ – Proverbs 25:6-7. If we continue to practice humility, it will soon become who we are.

Confidence does not mean you have to lack humility. I can be my chatty, loud, silly self, appear confident, and still be humble by acknowledging God is bigger than me, I am equal to everyone around me and show my humility through being generous. Generosity shows a heart that desires to loves and support others, no matter who they are, their financial situation, position on the career ladder, where they live or how many friends they have.

If you are signed up to do 40acts this year but are struggling to take that step to carry out a challenge and speak to someone new, maybe you have humility and lack the confidence. Don’t worry – confidence comes from our knowing that our mighty, all powerful, loving God is with us, and sometimes, all it takes is a prayer, a step of faith and a little bit of fake confidence (yes, fake it til you make it really has some truth to it!) and soon you will be ‘Walking justly, lovingly mercifully, and walking humbly with your God’ – Micah 6:8.

The question of the week is: Do you know someone humble? What aspects of their lives or actions make them humble and how could you implement them into your life to practice humility?