“All you need to do is believe in yourself.”
This is perhaps one of the most popular quotes we grew up hearing. It’s the one our teachers encouraged us with, and the one speakers preached from the stage, that’ll invite a great applause as people leave with a spike of motivation to take on the world.
But take a look around you.
Can you say with full confidence that you are all you need to handle the things that you can’t control? Do you really feel safe under your own skin? How do you face the anxiety in you, and tell yourself that you’re gonna be just fine?
Here’s the problem. We are anxious, because we’re trying to make things happen on our own. We are anxious, because we are taught that to solely rely on ourselves. According to research, we tend to brush aside our confusion, by pursuing happiness, but what if that isn’t the way of life?
We don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. We become happy by living a life that means something. Ain’t that interesting – happiness is the wrong pursuit! Quoting the wonderful Helen Keller, happiness is not attained through self-gratification but through ‘fidelity to a worthy purpose’.
Humility is understood when we realize that life is more than living to survive. It is understood when we realize that going the distance isn’t worthwhile if we’re only doing so for ourselves. Humility follows a clear understanding of who we are, for that’s when we discover what we are made for.
I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. – Philippians 4:12-13
Keywords: Learned, Christ – sufficiency
To be humble, we need to have an accurate measure of ourselves (Rev. Caleb Chan). An accurate measure of ourselves leads us to accept self-limitations. This acceptance is not one that leads to bitterness or self-pity, but it is paired with the confidence that God is our source of help, in our weaknesses. This confidence is built on faith, and the assurance that present challenges are testimonials in the making. Let’s take Paul as an example. In all the things that we would describe as absolute misery, he rejoiced. Paul could rejoice because he had a clear understanding of his purpose, and the humility to boast that Christ is his source of strength. As he wrote himself, this ability to be humble and content, is not natural, it is learnt.
Independence can only get you so far. There will come a day where you’ll have to choose between humility and pride. The former is an acknowledgement that you need God, the latter is a result of self-confidence gone wrong.
What are some ways we can learn to be humble?
• Humble people don’t look for immediate gratification.
(Paul pressed on through terribly hard times)
Humble people have self-control, they are not ignorant of the easy way out, but they choose to take the road less taken. Humble people understand that convenience isn’t bad, but it can cultivate a mindset of false entitlement. They are not focused on the outcome, they choose to be present in the process. Their goal to be still – still to listen- as they move in life. ( Philippians 3:12)
• Humble people are courageous, but not full of themselves.
(Paul let go of his pride)
They are bold because of their confidence in the Lord. Their steps may be big or taken behind the scenes, but their peace comes from knowing that God is pleased. They were fearful until they realized that they’re not supposed to shine for themselves. They decide to take steps of faith upon obedience, knowing that God’s plan will not lead them to fail. ( Philippians 3:3)
• Humble people live to uncover truths.
(Paul did not get ahead of himself)
They are strong because they live by claiming the truth. Nonetheless, they are not slaves with no opinions, but friends of God who bring their thoughts before the Lord. They converse with God by expressing their thoughts, questions, and doubts, and they ask of the Holy Spirit to grant them understanding. Religion restricts, faith explores. Humble people don’t restrict their thinking, they explore them with a child-like spirit, they learn to align them with the truth, they approach their own thoughts with the benefit of a doubt, they rest knowing that they will one day understand what they still can’t comprehend. (Philippians 3: 15; Proverbs 15:33)
• Humble people appreciate boundaries.
(Paul chose what he was allowed to dwell on)
They protect themselves from distraction for they know their own weaknesses. They know that the enemy is crafty in his tools of deception, and they know that debates are the enemy’s way of manipulation. They don’t debate with him, they just command him to leave. They are not fearful of him, just careful. They protect themselves by protecting the gates of their mind. Thoughts are seeds and they try their best to eliminate bad seeds, and water good seeds. ( Philippians 4:8)
• Humble people lead with compassion.
(Paul told people to model him, in tears)
Humble people understand that knowledge alone doesn’t complete a lesson. Humble people are hungry to learn, but not just to feed their mind, they want to learn in order to understand the Father’s heart. Humble people are compassionate because (1) they’ve experienced compassion from God Himself, (2) they’ve practised what they preach. They walk their talk first, for they know that their talk will change after they walk what they were taught. They know that experiences will deepen their understanding and possibly change the initial perspective of a given theory/principle. ( Philippians 3:10,17-18; James 2:16-17)
The famous saying is true: it is always easier said than done. Don’t listen to scriptures and in so deceive yourselves, because listening alone is not enough for us to grasp the meaning behind God’s word. Acting in obedience will allow us to experience what we claim to believe, and in this process, we’ll get a deeper understanding of God’s love and the intentions of his commands.
The process of humbling yourself will be emotional and scary because it’s a battle against your own pride, it can challenge everything you believed about the world and yourself.
But I encourage you, be brave to explore the truth! Realize your transgression, but don’t be shameful. Don’t build a case to justify your unbelief. Dive into it, dissect it, and with every new revelation, you will discover your true identity.
With humility, comes not just a sense of security, but a confident security. With security comes gratefulness, with gratefulness comes a whole new perspective and outlook on life, which is the secret that’ll fuel us to live through every obstacle without giving up.
If you have doubts, it’s okay! Ask a friend or say a little prayer:
Dear God, I may not know You well. But help me to understand why you love me, help me to let go of my pride. If the bible says that You’ll reveal yourself to me when I ask, then I humbly ask that you show me, who You are, and why I am not enough for myself.