IT’S 2013: PRACTICE BEING HUMBLE (Part 1 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about building trusting relationships. I believe that we are all created for relationships and what gives our lives meaning and purpose is to know that we are loved and accepted. When we have happy, purposeful, and meaningful relationships, then our lives become meaningful because we are loved and accepted by someone. Meaningful relationships really do bring hope to our lives.

In my first post, I asked you to consider becoming a loving person at the start of 2013. In my second post, I want you to consider practicing being humble as you journey through 2013. Each month I will ask you to consider practicing various themes so that by the end of the year, you will have seen that 2013 was not just a year in which you passively allowed time to happen to you but that you actively became a different person by practicing healthy character and finding success in all that you do.


So how would you define humility? What does being humble mean to you? Sometimes people define being humble as being a kind, giving person in which you allow others to take advantage of you. Or maybe you view being humble as being a servant in which you say yes to doing anything for someone and you never say no. Or maybe your ideas about being humble are to be a quiet person who never creates conflict and constantly looks for ways to please people.

As we consider sources for defining this word, Webster gives these definitions for the word humble: 1) not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive, 2) reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of submission, 3) ranking low in a hierarchy or scale. Wikipedia gives these definitions: 1) near the ground, not high or lofty, not pretentious or magnificent, unassuming; 2) to bring low, to reduce the power, independence, or exaltation of power, being meek. I am sure that if you search the word ‘humble’ into your favorite search engine you will find many descriptions of this word.

For the sake of this blog, let me invite you to consider the statement by Ezra Taft Benson:

Pride is concerned with who is right; Humility is concerned with what is right!

In my opinion, this is a powerful statement and a powerful reminder of the description of this word humble. And I want to talk about this word humble as it relates to right and wrong and in how we approach relationships. I think that humbleness is best displayed and lived out when it comes to issues of justice and relationships.

For example, we all want ideal justice for our lives. Sure, that is a wise thing to pursue. Many of us practice justice wanting and valuing what is right or wrong. We like to think that becoming a person of justice is to fight for what we want when it comes to this topic of right and we will also fight against for what we believe is wrong. There are many examples of this when we think of people and relationships and how we want our society to conduct itself.

Today we live in a world with people trying to prove who is right and wrong. “You said this, I said that, I did not say this, you said that!” The accusations and confrontations about who is right or wrong abounds in our world. Just listen to a talk radio station long enough or watch a talk television station and the debate, chatter and dialogue will pull you in as people rant and argue over various topics such as politics, religion, sports or current topics making the news or headlines. In some ways, free speech has been taken to a new level with people feeling entitled to speak, finding their voice, and communicating through various forums and media sites.

The problem is that pride and proving who is right has become the norm. And this is where, as a relationship counselor pride hurts and damages relationships. Especially in our most important and intimate relationships. It is one thing to prove your point to a complete stranger or a co-worker or someone from your hiking club, but it is another thing to try to prove your point when it comes to your most important personal relationships.

And the reason is this. I have seen and experienced so much relational and emotional damage being done in the name of pride in marriage, families, parenting, and friendship that one of the main reasons people feel hurt and pain is due to someone using their pride and rightness to prove their point. I like this question: Do you want to be right or do you want to have a relationship?

Far too often, people in personal relationships tend to view the relationship as a competition by engaging in a tug of war trying to win or prove who is right or wrong. Instead of being humble, there is blame, accusations and interrogation attacks attempting to prove who is right and who is wrong. Pride is concerned with who is right and defending your position by trying to prove you are right, and this only leads to conflict, hate, hurt, and divorce. Sure, you may win your point by trying to be right but you may lose the relationship.

Instead, consider the alternative. Humility is concerned with what is right. And what is right is far more important than who is right. Being humble and focusing on what is right is the greater calling. Because, when you do this, then you are living by your values based upon what you think is right and wrong.

For example, let’s say you are engaged in a running battle with someone in your personal life. What if you sat down with that person and each of you were to right out your top 7 values. As you know, your values are what is most important to you, what you live and stand for, and what shape your convictions and focus for your life. Each of us needs to have our own values based upon what we believe and what helps shape our focus and passion in life. When you believe and trust in something, then you will live for it.

So when you are humble, then you are concerned with what is right, or you are concerned with what you believe in and value. If you believe in life in all forms, then you will probably be pro-life and against all forms of death. When you are humble and you shape your life concerned about what is right—life—then you will become humble to live by what you believe in and not so much concerned with trying to prove you are right by attempting to persuade someone to believe as you do. So, when a murder trial comes up, people are going to draw sides regarding death or life, you are going to be concerned with what is right for you, and in what you believe in. Therefore, you will humbly share what you believe in and what is right—life—as a way to take a stand when it comes to a death sentence or a life sentence.

So, be humble, make a list of your top 7 values, and then be concerned that your 7 values are being lived out by you. If someone does not believe or go along with your top 7, then resist the temptation to persuade someone out of pride that you can prove you are right and they are wrong. Instead, be humble, live by what you value and you feel is right, and find a way, as best you can, to get along with as many people as possible, asking of people to respect what you believe in as you respect what others believe in. Being humble about what is right means to live a life of respect for what others believe and respecting yourself for what you believe in.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback and reaction.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist