SeqHim Consensus on Humility


I want to first and foremost thank everyone who responded to my last post asking for your perspectives on humility. Bob, Andrew, Sophie, Chris, Arnel, and Will – each of you put in time and energy to think about the subject and put your comments for all to see, and I thank you for that. May the Lord reward you for your efforts, and may he multiply the impact of your words.

What I would like to do now is take your feedback and consolidate it into a new post that can serve as a SeqHim consensus reference on humility. Many items I have taken verbatim from your comments and others I have consolidated into unique phrasing that I believes captures the spirit of the consensus. Rather than crediting your individual phrases, consider this an acknowledgement that you have done this work and not me. To the extent I have captured the consensus accurately; this is your post, not mine.

My prayer today is that reading, thinking, praying, and commenting on this post will be as helpful to you as it was for me putting it together.


Humility is that character attribute which is marked by a sense of lowness in position before God and others regardless of our given position in the world; it is the absence of pride. The humble person considers the will of God first, the needs of others second and desires of self last of all. Submission before God and others is a hallmark of biblical humility. In short, humility is an acknowledgement of who we are compared to who God is.

Scripture Reference

  • Proverbs 11:2
  • Proverbs 22:4
    • humility and fear of the Lord are the key to riches, honor, and life
  • Zephaniah 2:3
    • seek humility
  • Mark 4:39
    • The words of Christ, “Peace be still” and the storm and the waters obeyed.
  • Mark 5:41
    • “Talitha Cumi”. What do I have to say to that?
  • Acts 20:19
    • serve in humility
  • Philippians 2:3, 4
  • Colossians 3:12
    • as the elect, put on God’s characteristics – humility being one
  • 2 Timothy 2:24
    • as a servant of the Lord, avoid strife [prior verse] show humility when correcting
  • Titus 3:2
    • Show ALL your humility – understanding that we (believers) were just like them
  • James 4:6, 10
  • 1 Peter 5:6

Teaching Reference

If you think you are humble, you probably are not! Humility intends to seek Christ first, not evaluate you all the time!

So much of what separates us from God (puts us out of fellowship) is ‘self’ … a prideful attitude that “I can run my life better than God yet I’m better than others because I claim to be a Christian.” As we spiritually mature and understand that in order to follow Christ we must deny self, pick up our cross and follow Him. Humility is a big part of getting outside of “self” and focusing on other people.

Pray for God to show you where you need humility. Pray for guidance and courage to change. And whenever you feel good about yourself…well pride is in the way! Whenever your feelings are all about what you are experiencing and you can’t stop thinking about your own problems…it is also another form of pride. Be for the lookout for your motives in doing good. It must be done for God and not for anything or anyone else. (Good stuff, Sophie!)

Patterns: die to self, make it a habit in actions (learning–start with “I don’t know nearly enough”, loving–start with “I don’t care nearly enough”, etc.)

Anti-Patterns: self-abasement, false allocation of credit, false humility (faking humility)

In love, God brings humility to the proud. It is a painful gift to receive, but invaluable.

Thanks to Chris for supplying the in-line content from John Piper!

Suggested Resources

  • CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity, section 3, chapter 8 entitled “the great sin”. (great reference, Bob)
  • Michael Vincent Walking in Humility Seeking to live the life God desires.
  • The Bible; i.e. the life of Christ is a perfect example of humility. Also Moses and Job.


Confront pride face-on with the help of the Holy Spirit. Speak/define/identify areas in your life where you are prideful, ask Christ to cover it. Learn to find the positive in situations and people – negativity prohibits humility, but being positive and encouraging helps you to have perspective, which develops humility. Be intentional about giving something up where you might normally be prideful (i.e. listen before speaking despite having the answer).

Service has been a huge one for Andrew. Serving others puts your attitude in check and makes you realize that the world is not so small and other people need God’s love. Andrew, this one really resonates with me too.

The Holy Spirit will convict you and obedience is the key…pay attention, listen & Obey. Check your motives frequently if not all the time when you are doing something even when you think you are doing it for others.

Make a habit of leaning on God, especially when you think you know better. Stay in the Word to remind yourself of consequences of making critical decisions based on pride.

There may be no discipline other than God’s that will take you where you need to go. For Will he used cancer and paralysis. It worked, he is healed up, mostly, and much more usable as a tool for Christ.


Here are some circumstances that often require humility, so be on alert!

  • work situations
  • competitive sporting events
  • marriage
  • parenting
  • teaching
  • mentoring
  • mission work
  • leadership
  • teamwork
  • servanthood (“one must be willing to change diapers”…great line, Will)

Some elaboration from Arnel…good stuff:

“God is constantly trying to teach me stuff, but I suspect I can’t hear because of lack of humility. So, I think there are specific circumstances, dictated by God, that we need to listen for.

For example, I write software for a living. On a micro scale, I sometimes interact with God to get me through tough problems. Many times the best solution is to throw away hours worth of work because a better solution exists. This certainly takes humility.

On a larger scale, I sometimes have to interact with other teams to negotiate shared solutions. Sometimes people act arrogant or harsh and are difficult to work with. If I ‘humble myself’ by taking harsh or unfair criticisms to heart, then I’m left feeling lowly with no energy to be useful.

I see my faults in humility.

Trying to solve to what I see on my own leads me to lie to myself over what I see or leads me to bury myself over it. If, on the other hand, I allow humility to direct me to God and to ask Him to overcome what my faults and limitations, then I can begin to grow and act in a positive way through humility.”

You Have Homework!

I’m taking on a new project that will extend the capabilities and hopefully value of SeqHim to disciplemakers.  But to be successful, I will need the SeqHim community (that’s you, reader) to rise up and respond to this blog post.  I humbly request your help.  It will only take a few minutes of your time, but it will be extremely valuable to you and others.

In short, my desire is to deliver a SeqHim community consensus view on the virtue of humility.

I will explain further when I release the results, but for now I’m asking for your brief thoughts on these questions:

  1. How do you define humility?
  2. What specific Scriptures do you know speak to humility?
  3. What teaching on humility would you offer?
  4. What humility-specific teaching resources (i.e. books, sermons, etc) would you recommend?
  5. What disciplines (i.e. study, prayer, solitude, service, etc) have you discovered drive humble behaviors?
  6. What life circumstances commonly require humility?

I can’t describe how much I value and appreciate your responses to any or all of the questions above!  In a few days, I will consolidate and publish the results.

The Micro View Helps You through the Storms of Life

The micro view can be used to help during the storms of life.
The micro view can be used to help during the storms of life.

Have you noticed that there are two ways of using the iterative growth model? The one we have discussed most frequently thus far is what you might think of as the “macro” view because it helps at a higher, or “big picture”, level. In the “macro” view, a person is thinking about the activities they are employing to grow in knowledge, character and behavior. What books am I reading? What disciplines do I have in my life? How am I handing real-life experiences? Still within the macro view, one may focus these activities on a theme; i.e. joy, compassion, humility, or perseverance. The questions then become for focused. What books am I reading that will help me become more joyful? Which disciplines am I practicing that are designed to make me more joyful? What near-term opportunities do I have to be more joyful?

I want to add a second view today that you might think of as a “micro” view. The micro view is all about using the same model, and even the effort of the “macro” view, to help you obey when it matters most…a specific situation that demands faith and obedience. You can think of it as a way of being more successful obeying (from the growth model) God using another iteration of the growth model itself. Confused? Me too…let’s use an example.

Right now, stress/anxiety management is tops on my personal growth priority list. Why? Because I have lots of…let’s say “opportunity”…to use real life experience to help me conquer stressful and anxious situations. Catch my drift? No? How’s this … I’m stressed out because I have a full-time job, full-time ministry, and a full-time family; and, I sold my house, gave up my weekend looking at houses, and our best option seems to be living with my in-laws for ~5 months while our new home is being built. Better?

I’m not going to be exhaustive on everything that I am doing to deal with the stress/anxiety, because it can get complicated; but, I wanted to setup a real situation to illustrate the use of the growth model in situations like this. Here’s how it works…very simple. When I feel “anxious”, I ask myself a simple question: what Scripture (Hearing God) am I not believing (Believe God) that is causing me to be anxious (Obeying God)? The extent to which you have already been applying the macro view of “hearing God” (i.e. reading His Word and/or commentaries on His Word), “believing God” (i.e. disciplines such as Scripture memory and meditation), and “obeying God” (i.e. successfully handing anxious situations) in the theme area of joy/contentment/anxiety is the extent to which you will be able to use the micro view successfully. For, if you are not reading (hearing) and memorizing (believing) God’s word during times of peace, how are you going to recall it when you really need it? And, because spiritual growth is iterative (success breeds additional success), you need to be able to handle the small situations (obeying) before being able to handle the large ones.

The purpose of trial is not to escape the trial; it is to become better prepared for the next trial.

In my case, I have several passages, promises, concepts that I fall back on. My favorite passages are probably the ones most obvious to you; e.g. Phil 4:6-7, Ps 23. These two passages alone contain enough spiritual truth that if I would only believe it, I would not be anxious. And so, I recall it and trust it. Do the feelings go away? Not always for long, but can I make it through the trial with my faith intact and stronger, YES! And that, my friend, is the purpose of our suffering: to strengthen our dependence upon the Lord. The purpose of trial is not to escape the trial; it is to become better prepared for the next trial.

Therefore, allow me to encourage you. Next time you are in a tempting situation, think about which Scripture you do not believe that would cause you to consider the sin. Next time you are suffering, think about what Scripture that if you would only believe it would help you obey God and grow in your faith. Drive every tricky situation back to what God has said and your faith in Him. And remember, to be successful reacting you must be proactive between the storms.