Knowledge Center


Article -> Understanding Humility

Date Added: April 2019

Humility is the quality or condition of being humble; the modest opinion or estimate of our own importance. I am often told I am not humble and need to demonstrate more humility.

While in agreement humility is something I need to work on and recently shared with a volunteer committee I participate as something I need their help to improve, do we all really understand humility?

It is common to associate humility with individuals who may lack self-regard of themselves and others. Individuals who demonstrate unhealthy submission to others, especially those in positions of authority; and an inability to recognize and use their gifts, strengths and passions to positively impact others. In fact, this is not humility.

These individuals may lack self-confidence and view themselves as inferior to others. They do not speak up and fail to genuinely love and care for themselves, which is not humility.

Humility is not humiliation of self. It does not require us to deny our gifts and strengths. Genuine humility enables us to understand and appreciate our gifts and strengths, discern them, and use them to benefit others. Humble individuals are rooted in knowing themselves so well that their lives are grounded on who they are to positively impact the lives of others.

Humility frees individuals from pretending who they are. Whether they are more than or less than others. These individuals are extremely comfortable with who they are, which connotes both humility and genuine self-confidence. Individuals knowing both their gifts and their limitations. What they are good at and what they are not, enabling them to rely on the gifts and strengths they do not have (from others) to form a more cohesive and stronger team.

Paul J. Wadell, professor of theology and religious studies at St. Norbert College said, humility might best be described as clarity of vision about ourselves, our place in the world and how we stand in relation to others. He further notes the difference of humility with pride in that pride keeps us from acknowledging who we really are.

While acknowledging humility is an area of development, a recent leadership assessment stated the following about me: He is very comfortable with himself and has a strong awareness of his leadership style... he knows himself so well that he can articulate a number of inconsistencies.

There are individuals who exhibit both confidence and arrogance much to the eyes of the receiver. Individuals who can speak to large groups of people and have some state the individual is confident and others state the person is arrogant. Both may be correct and both incorrect.

If receivers of information are lacking in confidence or are not aware of their personal gifts and strengths, and unwilling to use them due to perceived humility (which is truly false humility); is the sender of information arrogant or confident? The concept of humility, arrogance and confidence breaks down when individuals are living in their own fears, lacking self-confidence, and/or are insecure about themselves.

Jesus is known to be a model of humility. He knew himself very well. Yet, he was direct in his communication, communicated things others did not always like to hear or receive well, was disliked by some, and misunderstood by many. Most would say he was humble, caring and confident; while few would say he was arrogant and prideful.

There is a story that God told someone He could have made human beings so each had everything; however, He preferred to give different gifts to different people so all would need each other. The essence of needing each other is to completely understand our own gifts, strengths and limitations; acknowledge them and be comfortable with them, and be willing to work with others with complimentary skills to change the world.

David Yeghiaian is committed to inspiring others through faith and leadership. Reach him at
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