Two signs that someone is humble

I am working on a book chapter on humility, and as I was beginning the chapter, I realized that humility is pretty hard to define. And yet we tend to know when people are humble and when they are not. So I asked on Facebook, "How do you know when someone is humble?" The responses helped me clarify things in my mind on a couple of points. I'll quote a handful of the responses that consistently focused on two signs of humility.

Humility involves a certain kind of self-forgetfulness. Humility liberates us from self-obsession and frees us to focus our energy on others. The humble person "goes unnoticed much of the time," and that's okay. Humility means being willing to go unnoticed. 

When a humble person circulates socially, there is quiet peace about oneself and boisterous joy in the accomplishments of others. For humble people, "it’s not all about them all the time. They give credit when credit is due and don’t worry when credit for themselves is not taken.” Humble people don't need to take glory from others and heap it on themselves. You know people are humble "when they don't say how humble they are. Instead, their life reflects it." A humble person might be really successful in some arena, but she doesn't need to tell you about it. 

Of course, all this prompted one friend to write with tongue in cheek, "I’m proud to announce to the world that I am the most humble person ever. Don’t be jealous, people!” Haha!

A consistent them of humility is willingness to serve others. It means taking a lowly position and intentionally placing yourself in service of others, whether they deserve it or not. It also means not demanding that those you are serving respond in any particular way. Humble people "serve and give without expecting anything in return." They "consider others' needs above self -- like Jesus throughout his entire life." Humble people "serve without expectations."

So what? Why is this important? In three different places, the Bible says, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble" (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Those are pretty strong words. Humility is necessary for growing in God's grace.


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