Humility is a tricky subject. To say that we’ve ever arrived at being humble would in fact just be pride in ourselves. To try and teach how to become humble without coming off as prideful is an incredibly difficult task. I have no solutions – every day I pray for God to grant me grace and humility towards others, and every day it continues to be a struggle. I think this will always be a thorn for me, as pride and arrogance were a huge problem for me prior to becoming a Christian. Even today, the very doctrines that should humble me – that Christ came into the world to save the worst of sinners like me – creates puffed up conceit and pride over being able to dominate others in discussion. I’ve heard it said that seminaries are often a breeding ground for pride, as we can often tend to academize the faith throughout our studies. Even while I do my basic exercises or readings, I have to consistently stop and pray and remind myself why I am doing these studies.
The Scriptures explicitly warn against teachers who are prideful, arrogant, conceited and think too highly of themselves. Even worse, they teach that such people are not qualified for leadership. I often fear that due to this depravity in my nature I will never be able to lead as I should. My only comfort has been consistently to pray through the following prayer and passage from Philippians 2:1-11. I thank God that he has exposed this pride within me, and now I only know how to continue to ask him to take it from me.
I humble myself for faculties misused, opportunities neglected, words ill-advised, I repent of my folly and inconsiderate ways, my broken resolutions, untrue service, my backsliding steps, my vain thoughts.
O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood and let no evil result from my fretful temper, unseemly behaviour, provoking pettiness.
If by unkindness I have wounded or hurt another, do thou pour in the balm of heavenly consolation; If I have turned coldly from need, misery, grief, do not in just anger forsake me: If I have withheld relief from penury and pain, do not withhold thy gracious bounty from me.
If I have shunned those who have offended me, keep open the door of thy heart to my need.
Fill me with an over-flowing ocean of compassion, the reign of love my motive, the law of love my rule.
O thou God of all grace, make me more thankful, more humble; Inspire me with a deep sense of my unworthiness arising from the depravity of my nature, my omitted duties, my unimproved advantages, thy commands violated by me.
With all my calls to gratitude and joy may I remember that I have reason for sorrow and humiliation;
O give me repentance unto life;
Cement my oneness with my blessed Lord, that faith may adhere to him more immovably, that love may entwine itself round him more tightly, that his Spirit may pervade every fibre of my being.
Then send me out to make him known to my fellow-men.
-Valley of Vision, “Humility in Service”
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Philippians 2:1-11, ESV