My Self-Centered Humility


Remember what other people say about you. They’ll often give you a better grade than you give yourself.

That’s sacrilegious. I set down the book. I’m supposed to get my value from God not people, right? But did this secular book have a point? My own self-judgment is often a cloudy rainstorm compared to what others say about me.

The advice was eerily similar to Mom’s proverb, after all.

“Let other people praise you, not yourself.” Mom quoted Proverbs 27:2 to us kids whenever we bragged about ourselves.

I tried to remember to never say anything good about myself so Mom wouldn’t have to tell me. I wanted to be humble so I didn’t have to be put in my place. I talked myself down so others could lift me up like in Luke 14:10.

“When you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.”

When I talked down about myself, I partially hoped others would say I wasn’t that bad. I knew begging for compliments was really pride, but most of me really wanted to be sure I didn’t think of myself more highly than I ought, like Romans 12:3 said.

Should I consider what others say about me? The book still lay on my lap. Was that what Mom’s proverb had meant all along? I scanned through the verses on humility in my mind. This man was right. I’d totally missed the point.

“Let someone else praise you” means I shouldn’t be the one talking or thinking about myself, not praises or insults (Proverbs 27:2).

Letting someone else assign my place, means I should stop being my own evaluator (Luke 14:10). That’s like telling my professor I’m grading my own paper.

And Romans 12:3 doesn’t tell me to decide how highly I ought to think of myself. It tells me to look through the faith God gave me.

Wow. I’m not very humble. I’m self-obsessed. It’s not that I should lower or raise how I think of myself depending on my personal tendencies. It’s that I should give up the right to assign my own value.

Of course I’m much better off listening to the wise people in my life than my own clouded judgment. But ultimately, I’m better off listening to the giver of my worth.

Photo credit Lex McKee.


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