by Jennie Smith
Humble pie is not something most people want to eat. It usually means we’ve done someone wrong and face humiliation as we seek restoration. Humility is a character quality that we like to avoid – it has a negative connotation. However, humility is a godly characteristic; “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (I Peter 3:8).
Humility is a hard quality to come-by as it is very counter-cultural. Our culture says to teach our kids to be proud of their accomplishments, to have a high self-esteem. Teaching them to be humble seems to be in direct opposition to building them up.
However, I’ve recently learned that humility is a key element in handling times of deep suffering. A recent article I read states: “Humility is the way to wisdom.. Humility is the way to contentment in the midst of confusing suffering” (Welch, 2012). I Peter 5:6-7 says: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Even Jesus approached the time of his death with true humility when he says “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Although we never want to think of our kids encountering a time of significant grief and trial, the facts demonstrate that those times are inevitable. Our time to teach our kids is so short and we should not overlook the importance of working on this character trait with them.
Teach Them Who God Is
Micah 6:8 teaches us “to walk humbly with your God.” A reminder that God is God and we are not instills the godly humility that will carry one through many, many trials. When we think of Job and the tremendous suffering he endured, we call to mind the last few chapters when God finally speaks. What does he tell Job? “Through gentle, yet relentless, fatherly questions, he was taught that God is God and our aim in suffering is not to get answers but to submit to his lordship” (Welch, 2012). If we can have our children grasp who God really is, and give them a proper respect for his sovereignty, hopefully they will bring these things to mind when faced with trials.
Recognize the Power Source
This is one of my favorite definitions of humility: “Humility is not denying the power you have but admitting
that the power comes through you and not from you” (Smith, 1984). Our kids have been gifted in unique and special ways. They may be great athletes, be really astute in math, or be musically talented. True humility is not a denial of the gifts they’ve been given, but a recognition that these things are from the Lord. A little girl I once knew had the most beautiful curls. Even at the young age of 4 and 5, if you said to her, “I love your hair” she would respond “God gave it to me.” I always loved her sweet heart – never realizing that her parents were instilling a humble spirit in her. We are never successful in our own power – it comes directly from the Lord, and He should be the one to receive the praise.
Provide Opportunities for Them to Serve
The very nature of a servant is humility. As Jesus taught his disciples, he told them over and over again to be servants, and also demonstrated the same in his actions. “…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Are there places where your children can serve and reach out to others in need?
Teaching our children to be thankful and helping them learn to ask forgiveness are more ways that they may learn humility. Let’s take the bad taste from humble pie and give our children (and ourselves) the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of walking humbly with our God.
Smith, F. (January 1, 1984). “Christian Humility.” Leadership Journal, Winter 1984.
Welch, E. (July 18, 2012). “Suffering, Step One.”