In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared debunks the myth of Christian humility, to try to unpack how true humility is different than talking down to yourself in the mirror (or in your own mind)… or letting other people talk down to you.. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple here.
The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.
This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith.
I got some very good advice recently from one of my CrossFit coaches, Kate, at 321 Wellness here in Grand Haven. I’ve been doing CrossFit for over a year but I still feel like I lag behind the other athletes at times. I’ve got a weak lower back that is prone to injury, if I’m not careful. I’ve got a weak right hip which means I tend to collapse my right leg too much. And I don’t have the engine to power through some of the more intense cardio at times. So all of this means that I often find myself finishing last in times or reps.
So, in the midst of our workout, I was talking about how poor an athlete I am, and Kate said, “Stop that, Jared. You’re not allowed to talk about yourself that way in my class.”
It really stuck in my head. It made me think about the negative messages we so often tell ourselves and how those messages can be destructive to our sense of self and dignity.
So today, I’d like to break the myth of Christian humility, to try to unpack how true humility is different than talking down to yourself in the mirror (or in your own mind)… or letting other people talk down to you.
Humility is absolutely a Christian virtue. Jesus tells us in Matthew 23 that those who exalt themselves will be humbled but that those who humble themselves will be exalted. St. Paul urges us in Philippians 2 to try to put on the mind of Christ, a mind of humility and service. St. Augustine of Hippo taught that preachers needed to have a humble disposition even as they approach the Biblical text for preaching, knowing that only a humble person can truly grasp the truths of Scripture and that the grace of preaching well depends on God’s gift coming alongside careful your study.
At its root, humility comes from the Latin word humilitas, the same word from which we get the word humus, for earth. To be humble is to know that you are dust, formed by God and breathed into with the Spirit of God… to know that you are indeed beloved dust, but you are, still, dust.
Humility as a Christian virtue, however, needs to be separated from two things that are contrary to the actual teachings of the church and are not helpful for spiritual growth.
First, there is false humility. We live in a sardonic and cynical time, when self-deprecating and dry humor is the way many of us make our way through life. However, often we use self-deprecation to mask very real feelings of inadequacy. This is what my coach at 321 Wellness caught onto, that I was truly feeling inadequate as an athlete and so was not only making fun of myself, but I was speaking an identity of inadequacy as an athlete into my my own spirit and mind.
And, as she knows, that’s not how you grow as an athlete.