Choose Humility


Humility is something you choose; it is not something you try. As Peter Wagner wrote, "Humility is a matter of personal choice. If you are [humble], it is because you have decided that you will be humble. If you are not, it is because you have not decided to be humble."[10]

Of all the disciples who could have talked about this character trait, Peter put it most practically: "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another."[11] Peter was infamous for a lack of humility in his early days, but by the time he penned these words, he had lived another thirty years. For most of those years, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He had been persecuted and made mistakes, and he became a humble man. He spoke of humility as something we can put on. Just as we intentionally select our clothes and put them on every day, so we are to don humility every day. Peter spoke of our humility in relation to others. A character trait is useful only when it is testable in relation to others.

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For example, many people are in love with the idea of love. They dream of meeting just the right person, and of marriage and children. The idea is a good one, but love is irrelevant unless it becomes an action that benefits another. God's love is irrelevant apart from his acts of love. Humility is irrelevant apart from how we act in relation to other people. Peter was saying that we are to consider the people in our lives every day, and to intentionally act in humility toward them. In other words, lower ourselves to take action that will benefit them.

I am gradually growing in humility. My wife has said to me, "Bill, when we were first married you were very selfish. You have made great progress. Now you are just selfish." She is smiling when she says it, usually in the company of others for effect, but she has more than forty years of experience to back up her claim. I have made progress in becoming humble, but that progress has been gradual; it has been a product of positive events and difficult trials. Many forces have converged over the years to create a more humble and sacrificial spirit in me. I still say to Jane, "Don't ask me if I want to empty the dishwasher; tell me you want me to, or I need to. Because I don't think I will ever get to the 'I want to clean the kitchen' level of marital delight."

The decision to be humble is a lifelong one, much like deciding to follow Christ. But as in following Christ, every day is a series of choices. And those choices create something called character. C. S. Lewis put it this way: "Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you ... into something a little different from what it was before.... Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other ... either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature."[12]


[10] C. Peter Wagner, Humility (Ventura, CA: Gospel Light ,2002), 8.
[11] 1 Peter 5:5, ESV.
[12] Mere Christianity (London: HarperCollins, 1952, reprint 1986), 92.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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