“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
Psalm 25:9 (NIV)
Humility is the bedrock foundation of all spiritual growth. So say the sages, so says the Scripture.
Pride, egotism, “vainglory” (that’s an old-fashioned term) – this is the persistent tendency within all of us to make self the highest thing, the center of our lives. It’s what hinders our ability to love God above all those other competing desires to look good, impress, be first. It keeps us from loving others “un-selfishly“, for it’s hard to sacrifice our own interests in favor of another’s.
I’ve been praying the Litany of Humility daily for years. I sometimes feel like I have made some progress, but then my “flesh”, as St Paul calls it, pops up and I again stumble and fail to love. I’m grateful for Confession and the vast mercy of God! He gives me a clean slate and a fresh start.
But I have also come up with some practical exercises for my growth in humility. I wrote them in my prayer journal a while ago, and remind myself of them periodically. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Learn how to laugh at yourself and your foibles. It’s okay to look ridiculous – we humans are! Embrace those inevitable opportunities to look foolish and inept.
2. Pray to be able to let others shine. Affirm them and rejoice with their victories and accomplishments.
3. Take on humble chores gladly – nothing is beneath your dignity.
4. Be quiet about your pain and struggles. Pray much and keep them to yourself. If you need to talk about them, avoid self pity and complaining, and choose carefully with whom you speak.
So this is my current “exercise program” for growth in humility. I pray to grow in virtue and holiness, and I know that humility is the essential prerequisite for that as far as God is concerned.