I used an illustration in class yesterday of a sermon I preached way back and when I asked the RHETORICAL question "Who of you here today is humble?" someone actually raised their hand. I made light of this as somewhat symptomatic of misunderstanding what humility really is, even though the lady who did it is a gem of a person. I couldn't help but find it funny. One of my students objected via email and said that it isn't necessarily wrong to be confident in one's own humility because it is something we should be seeking as followers of Jesus. The student also stated that it is primarily a position that focuses on others not ourselves. My response was that I think it is both a perspective on ourselves and a perspective on others, and that humility evidences itself not in self-proclamation (Yes, I am humble...) but in the ways we naturally and implicitly act/think/give/work/teach/live.
This has pushed through a strand of words that seem to float around the quest to be humble: brokenness empathy compassion splangchnizomai self-awareness/self-critique discipline community forgiveness servanthood self-denial kenosis the cross
thinking more and more on these lines, I wonder if humility is something anyone can really DISCUSS considering the fact that once we take a stand on the what/how/who of humility, aren't we saying that at least the core qualities of humility are within us at the moment of utterance? Or, in working through the idea are we really saying "We can fall at any moment. We can screw up and act without love and anti-redemptively (which is anti-Kingdom) at the drop of a hat."
Is humility the knowledge that we are not deserving of the quality of humility being ascribed to us even though we are searching through grace to have it describe us entirely? Is it an active pursuit or a passive admission? Is it the modernist climb of the "humility corporate ladder" or is it the way of the mystics/Desert Fathers/and other "dead guys" that says humility comes in falling through the "floor" of every single level of ascending status until you realize you were born to fall below others until you find yourself in the basement with Christ himself?
listening: "high and dry" radiohead