To be great is to be humble. It’s a contradiction our modern world seems to have lost as we pose for pouty, duck-lipped selfies, post photos of colorful meals made from scratch in spotless kitchens, and plan the perfect, most exotic vacation getaways ever.
Okay, in truth, I don’t do any of those things and most of my friends don’t either, which makes my wonder why they pop up on my newsfeed so often. What is even more incomprehensible though is how many times I roll my eyes when looking at those posts.
Granted there are MANY times I look and say, “Oh wow! Look at Jenna! She went to Tahiti. The photos are beautiful, and she really needed to get away for a while. I’m so happy for her!”
But there are also times I look at photos and think, “Oh sure, Jenna’s off again on another braggy vacation of white sand beaches, bikini clad bodies, and 2.5 kids on a beach that leaves me looking for the quintessential white picket fence that I am sure follows her everywhere.”
Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this on occasion!
I’ve thought a lot about why I do this. It’s not that I particularly dislike those I eye roll over. In most cases, I don’t know them well enough to have a strong opinion either way; yet I still find myself thinking their self-centeredness, self-importance, self-promotion is wrong. It annoys me to see others so blatantly flaunting themselves and proclaiming to the world how great they think they are.
But again, I generally don’t know them well so I have to ask myself why their self-absorption bothers me so much.
That’s when I start to squirm.
Some people are legitimately over-the-top in their look-at-me-and-how-great-I-am attitudes. Pride is a tremendous deadly sin, and there is much pride and arrogance in many who make such posts. It would be easy to pass by those posts without them affecting me at all, but I don’t always do so. Instead, I want to scoff at them. I look at them judgmentally and thank God I, a Pharisee, am so much better than they are!
It’s easy to point out pride in others. It’s harder, and infinitely more painful and vital, to point it out in ourselves.
Humility in Growth
If I want to grow, I have to consider that some of what I don’t like about others may be from what it is in them that I would see in myself if I were more self aware. Acknowledging my own pride and cultivating humility is absolutely necessary for personal growth. I must see gaps in my ability and understanding and seek to bridge those gaps. This does not occur naturally beyond early childhood, but it must occur if we are to continue to grow and thrive throughout life.
Think of when you experienced the most personal growth. For most of us, that is during childhood. We grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and in other ways far more before graduating high school than in all our years after. We can say we do that because we attend school and are forced to learn, but as a high school math teacher, I can promise you that is not the main idea behind solving learning + growth + humility versus learning + growth + pride equations.
A student can sit in class, vacant or obstinate, and not learn much of anything all year. She can come in September and leave in June and not be more able to find x or explain why she’d want to find x than she was 18o school days earlier.
In order to learn, a student must be willing to learn. She must choose to do more than take up space in a seat. She must open her mind to the possibility that the teacher knows what she is talking about and that there is a reason to listen even if she doesn’t see it now. If she wants to do well, she must answer questions when called upon. If she wants to do really well, she must swallow her pride and ask questions when she doesn’t fully understand or thinks topics may go deeper. Of course, she must also be able to absorb criticism as constructive and beneficial rather than as hurtful and demeaning.
In short, to do well, she must be humble.
That’s how all human beings work.
We have three basic choices in life.
- We can take up space.
- We can be passive and hope to catch some of the lesson.
- We can choose to be open to feedback and seek out what we do not know.
If this works in a math class, how much more does it apply to other areas of life? How much more does it apply to learning about ourselves or growing and becoming a better person?
If you are interested in building Resilience, Optimism, and Opportunity to strengthen Body, Mind, and Soul, please join the Made for You Challenge launching this Spring! You can find out more by joining the Facebook group MADE FOR THIS or emailing Kerri@StrahlenGrace.com.