British writer, C.S. Lewis, wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” The virtue of humility creates better learners, leaders, and problem solvers, allowing individuals, communities, and the entire world to grow closer together.
Why Encourage Humility?
Attentiveness to the thoughts and opinions of others helps us enjoy healthier relationships. Saint Augustine said, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” With egos in check, we’re less likely to brag or show off—behaviors that repel others. No matter how good we think we are, the truth is this: we can always improve. Eagerness to accept constructive criticism stimulates inclinations towards both personal and intellectual growth.
Teach Children Humility
As always, our children are watching us; humility starts at home. Rather than a big house, possessions, or extravagant vacations, emphasize the importance of attitudes and behaviors. Although good deeds are not always rewarded, human decency matters far more than worldly possessions. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s important to embrace lessons learned in failure. When children learn to admit their mistakes and humbly learn from them, they experience the virtue of humility. American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote, “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” Every person we encounter knows things that we don’t and is able to share unique perspectives and special gifts.
While praise and positive reinforcement help children build self-esteem and self-confidence, overpraising can neutralize or even imbalance a child’s uplifted spirit with the infection of overconfidence or pride. We can discourage entitlement by restraining ourselves from offering redundant and overzealous praise. If we find ourselves compelled to overeagerly shower children with compliments, remember to also recognize them when they exemplify humility.
In acknowledging the efforts of others, supporting, encouraging, and celebrating their talents and triumphs, we demonstrate genuine respect. By rejecting pride and jealousy, we embrace humility, making it easier to build and maintain meaningful relationships.
Humility is intricately related to learning and teachability—a way of being that embraces continuous self-correction and self-improvement. Bengali philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote, “We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.” Children who develop this all-important virtue are generally happier than their less humble counterparts.
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
—1 Peter 5:5 KJV
Two rascally weavers convince the emperor they are making him beautiful new clothes, visible only to those fit for their posts, but when he wears them during a royal procession, a child recognizes that the emperor has nothing on.
One of the most important truths I have learned over the course of my life is that we are responsible for seeking a humble life and cultivating a humble heart. We must therefore realize that humility is a choice that we must first make, and then pursue.
Often called the best work on humility ever written, Murray calls all Christians to turn from pride, empty themselves, and study the character of Christ to be filled with His grace.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.