“Go and humble yourself . . .” – Proverbs 6:3
Country singer Mac Davis once had a hit song you may recall that goes like this: “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble / When your perfect in every way / I can’t wait to look in the mirror / Cause I get better looking each day / To know me is to love me / I must be a h*** of a man / Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble / But I’m doing the best that I can.”
The humor, of course, is in the singer’s self-perception, which is – well! – anything but humble. Then maybe the song makes us laugh at ourselves a bit as well; for aren’t we all a little like that at times? The song is right about one thing, though, humility is hard, and a bit tricky.
It’s hard because we imagine a humble person as a shrinking violet, weak and lacking confidence and courage. And who likes to think of oneself, much less be thought of by others, that way? But humility is not born of weakness, but comes from strength, confidence and courage; otherwise, it would not be considered one of the great human virtues. For what are we here for if not to step up and do our best at our respective endeavors? And that’s were it gets tricky, when our accomplishments tempt us to toot our own horn or expect accolades from others.
The pen, we’ve heard it said, is mightier than the sword. Likewise, it might also be said that humility is mightier than pride. Consider, for example, the lives of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone, widely believed to have been the two greatest British Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century. Comparing the two, someone once surmised, that if you walked out of Gladstone’s office after meeting with him you would think he was the smartest person in world. Disraeli, however, after meeting with him you would likely walk out feeling like YOU were the smartest person in the world. Two brilliant men, two extraordinary leaders, both with amazing accomplishments, except one was humble, the other proud.
In the theater of life pride steals the spotlight for oneself. But humility lights up the entire stage, selflessly sharing the accolades with others. The better way is to “Go and humble yourself,” the Proverb urges. But, “Oh Lord, it’s hard . . .”, isn’t it?