IT’S 2013: PRACTICE BEING HUMBLE (Part 3 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 of your relationships.


As we consider practicing humility for our lives and our relationships, two main themes will start to grow in our life. The first is that humble people show kindness, understanding, and help to others who fail. The second is that humble people are not derailed by their own failures, but they accept failure as a normal process of life.

Think about it. No one wants to experience failure. I mean, how would you define failure or how have you experienced failure? What were those experiences like? How did failure affect you personally, professionally and relationally? Did failure defeat you and cause you to quit or move towards isolation?

You see, pride says that I cannot fail. Pride has to do with proving who is right. When failure hits, the prideful person will deny it, come up with excuses, or attempt to bulldoze their way through life attempting to prove that they are right. Unfortunately, in the midst of pride and rightness, they leave a wake of self destruction and relationship destruction hurting themselves and other people. We all can think of people and organizations that have turned to lying, cover ups, or deceit in order to not be caught or be viewed as doing something wrong.

But humble people view failure differently. They engage in the benefits of being humble by accepting their failures and not trying to cover up their failures. Humble people become empathic people. They want to show understanding and kindness to those who fail. The reason they do this is because they have received kindness and the response, ‘well, we’ve all been there’ from others when they failed. To identify or join others by admitting your mistakes and failures means you are being humble and are willing to accept the kindness of others.

For example, think of a time you have either been interviewed or have been the interviewer for a company. Maybe you have been selected to be part of a team interview meeting with new candidates for a particular position. As you know, you want to hear from the candidates their accomplishments, their strengths, and their goals for how they are going to step into the position with the company. You want to feel good about the candidate, and you want to hear that they can do the job.

But, would it not be a good idea to be prepared to be asked or ask the candidate to describe their weaknesses and possible failures and how they have learned from them? Don’t you want someone for the position to be real and honest? As you know, far too often employers, churches, organizations, and companies hire those who do not admit their weaknesses or failures and this person can lead or participate in unhealthy behavior creating conflict and division within the company. Team members will start to complain about this person and their pride, grandiosity, and poor leadership skills.

You see, humble people are not afraid to admit their weakness and failures. We all have known someone either at work, at church, in our families or marriage, or in our friendship life when we encounter someone who thinks they have never failed. This person becomes so prideful and desiring to portray themselves as having it all together or attempting to be perfect due to thinking they are above their own weakness or failures.

People who think they have it all together are infected with a terrible sickness and they don’t even know it. They attempt to flatter themselves and project an image of a person without flaws or mistakes. Prideful people think falsely that they are above their weakness or failures because they don’t know how to admit or process their own failure. To project an image of all good and have it all together is to portray a life of putting on a mask, telling others you are always fine and great, and are deeply afraid of admitting that they have weakness and failures in their closest. They want to keep that well hidden and use various strategies to keep this area well covered up.

But a humble person knows their weakness, admits their mistakes, and learns from their failures. They see what they have done and they admit those things. They do not try to project a view that they are all good, either in their own minds or in the minds of others, because they do not have such a view. They experience the benefits of being humble because they admit it and join the ‘well, we’ve all been there’ club and then they look to encourage others who also have experienced mistakes and failure.

The benefits of being humble are to be confessional, honest and transparent in expressing who we are and not try to fake or deceive people in who we are not. Humble people are ready to admit their failures quickly when they are wrong and are willing to either self correct their mistakes or are open to receive correction and confrontation from others. They do not hide or use shame as a strategy to pull away from others but view the benefits of being humble so they can connect with others as well as look for ways to encourage others. They do not remain in self centeredness nor are they defensive people.

So find a way to practice being a humble person. As you do this, relational barriers will start to come down in your life, trust will increase, and you will be more concerned of how you come across to people versus trying to be right and always good in your own eyes. As you admit your mistakes and failures by being humble, trust will grow in your relationships and it will prove to be the foundation for a more honest and promising relationship of handling conflict moving forward. People will want to work with you due to your humbleness and the building up of trust.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback and reaction.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist