Humility: The Bedrock of Mastery
With all the confusion in the world it is easy to get stuck in the muck. Years ago, I made a collage as I do at times when I feel stuck. One of the pictures I used was of a baby bird in the nest with its beak wide open and nothing but the Cosmos above him. Sometimes I feel that way! Just calling out to the Divine, and trying not to get stuck in my egocentric point of view, nor anyone else's.
Like most of us I really don't like being told what to do and as a result I have had to learn the hard way. By listening to my pride, I have made many mistakes. I once had a spiritual teacher who said that pride is a product of the ego, and that EGO is an acronym for Edging God Out!
Pride, or self-conceit, is the opposite of humility! In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis calls pride the "anti-God" state. He writes of pride, "...it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. ...it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind." *
With pride our vessel is filled with arrogance! There is no room for anything else to get in. Pride keeps us rigid and closed off to the wisdom, love and beauty which are attributes of God. Our ego takes over and is a poor substitute!
Humility is the realization that God is within us, and when we don't obstruct this Power, it comes through as intuitive wisdom, love and truth. In this realization we have a reverent respect towards ourselves and all creation, and we humbly give thanks to God.
Jesus Christ exemplified all the aspects of humility. He showed us how to be an empty vessel for God to work through us by coming down to earth as a helpless infant, and by His life, death and resurrection. We celebrate this Holy event on Christmas Day!
Andrew Murray in his book, Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, says of Jesus, "His humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow Him to do in Him what He pleased, regardless of what men might say of Him or do to Him." *
In order to be an empty vessel, we need to recognize, realize and become receptive to this Grace. How do we do this? We do this by bringing awareness to all that we do, say, think, and feel, by changing our negative traits, and by cultivating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. This is how we get out of the way and let God's love flow through. Simple but not easy!
I was talking to a friend one-time years ago about humility, and I never forgot what he had to say. He told me that humility is simply being your true self; it is not conceit nor is it self loathing. If you are good at playing the piano and someone comments on how beautifully you play, simply say, 'thank you' and realize that it is by God's grace that we are able to do anything.
When we really believe that God is within us and comes through us, we also realize that all of us are inter connected. As a result, we listen to our intuitive voice and pay attention to where we can be of service.
Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life states, "Servants focus on others, not themselves. This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less."
We all have seen the difference between a person who just does their job and those who serve. The person who serves listens to you and is ready to help. They genuinely care about you, and are much more pleasant to be around than the person who is just doing their job.
C.S. Lewis describes a person who is humble as 'a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.'
A person who is sincerely humble is also able to forgive, and doesn't let pride get in the way of apologizing when they are wrong or offensive.
I believe we all have a compass that helps us to know when our ego is taking over. Through simply being aware and asking the help of the Holy Spirit we can navigate past the ego, or at least put our ego in the back seat.
I recently read the book, Humility Rules: Saint Benedict's 12-step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem, by J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B. * Saint Benedict was a monk living in the 6th century who was asked by a group of monks to guide them.
Since then there have been tens of thousands of monks living in monasteries throughout the world who have followed the rules of St. Benedict; however, these rules are hard for us in the 21st century to fathom.
The author, with his keen sense of humor, turns these 6th century rules of Saint Benedict into palatable wisdom to live by. At the end of each chapter he recommends a practice you can adopt for that day. Along with prayer, meditation, and service here are some of the little ways he suggests we practice humility:
___Spare the life of a bug. Bonus points if it's a mosquito
___Let someone else less competent than you tell you what to do.
___Secretly do someone else's chores.
___Let someone tell you a story you have already heard.
___Spend an entire day without correcting anyone.
___Keep your next opinion to yourself.
___Make no excuses the next time you are reprimanded.
___Smile at someone who doesn't look like they are going to smile back.
___Think of a rule you don't like, and reword it in a positive way.
___Just say 'thank you' the next time someone tells you something you already know.
___The next time someone annoys you, don't tell anyone.
___Find a point of agreement with someone who has a different opinion.
___The next time someone compliments you, give God the credit.
___Spend an entire day without looking at a screen.
At Christmas we celebrate the birthday of the little baby who humbly took on our humanity. May you know His peace at Christmas, and feel His joyful presence throughout the New Year!
Love and Peace,
*Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
*Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, by Andrew Murray
*Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness, by Andrew Murray
*The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren
*Humility Rules: Saint Benedict's 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem, by J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,