Humility & Strength

Humility & Strength

In his book The Road to Character, David Brooks raises the following questions in the final chapter:

• Toward what should I orient my life?
• Who am I and what is my nature?
• How do I mold my nature to make it gradually better day by day?
• What virtues are the most important to cultivate and what weaknesses should I fear the most?
• How can I raise my children with a true sense of who they are and a practical set of ideas about how to travel the long road to character?

Asking the right questions is important in life, especially as followers of Christ. These are significant questions, important questions. Many people ask the wrong questions in life, more shallow and superficial questions.

I can grow frustrated with the superficiality and lack of depth that permeates much of our culture. What do I mean by this? I mean that many people are unwilling or unable to get past superficial conversation, surface-level stuff. Yet all of us long to go deeper, to connect on a deeper level. But this requires trust and vulnerability, and many people are not willing to be vulnerable. It requires a deep sense of humility, an admission that we are all flawed and don’t have it all together. The biblical word for this is “sin”. We are all broken, to some degree – it’s part of the human condition.

Brooks says this about humility, “In the struggle against your own weakness, humility is the greatest virtue. Humility is having an accurate assessment of your own nature and your own place in the cosmos. Humility is an awareness that you are an underdog in the struggle against your own weakness. Humility is an awareness that your individual talents alone are inadequate to the tasks assigned to you. Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.”

Of course, pride and ego get in the way. Wanting to be important, wanting to feel important. Wanting others to think highly of us. Pride is a very complicated topic. Jesus echoed this sentiment in Mark’s gospel when he said, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Maintaining a deep sense of humility is important as we journey through life. In one of his Enneagram presentations a few years ago, Hunter Mobley made it clear that we all struggle with something. We all have a vice or tendency that we constantly wrestle with. It might be anger, pride, deceit, envy, greed, fear, gluttony, lust, and sloth – these challenges are real sins and must be acknowledged. These things greatly affect our relationships with others. But these behaviors do not need to define us. These are simply obstacles on the human journey that we must work to overcome.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans about our inner struggle: “I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want but I do the very thing that I hate.” Growing in discipleship involves making a conscious effort to do better and to be better. What we all must do is be honest about where we struggle, pray to God for guidance, and seek to keep growing every day.

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