“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Humility isn’t exactly my strongest character trait… not even in the top 10. But, as I’ve grown closer to the Lord, I’ve seen its importance. I understand its value. But, more importantly, I’ve come to appreciate my responsibility as a parent to teach humility to my children… God help me, to even model it.
A few years ago, it became very apparent to us that despite being raised in homes of faith, neither my husband nor I really understood what it meant to walk with Jesus everyday, all day long. As our eyes were opened to the possibility of Jesus being introduced to every aspect of our lives, not just sporadic sprinklings here and there and a concentrated dose on Sunday, we immediately began to see that things needed to change in our home. Our priorities needed to change. The way we talked to one another needed to change. Our rules needed to change. But, introducing change isn’t always easy… mutiny is always a risk. However, humility is a powerful ally.
One fateful night, my husband and I sat our kids down and explained what God was stirring in our hearts…that we hadn’t been the best examples of God’s love; that we hadn’t set the best example for what it looks like to follow Jesus. We also began to explain our need, and our desire, to do a better job at being the parents God wanted us to be. And this began with a heartfelt apology to our kids, as well as to God, for not being obedient to the call on our lives as parents. Our apology was received with stunned silence and slack jaws, which is completely understandable. It’s not exactly commonplace in our house for the adults to apologize to the kids. We’re usually the ones forcing the kids to apologize through clenched teeth. Yet, through God’s endless grace, our children saw that humility is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s a display of adoration for Jesus. Humility isn’t necessarily about putting someone else above us. It’s about exalting Jesus above all. Our purpose was to demonstrate to our children that humility isn’t about belittling us, but about bringing praise to God.
Now, of course, there have been more missteps along the way than I care to count. Pride rears its ugly head and self-centeredness constantly tries to steal the reigns. But, as a family, we continuously try to remind ourselves of the importance of humility… of putting the needs of others before our own, but, more importantly, of putting Jesus first. This is counter-cultural. It goes against the “every-man-for-himself” mentality that has consumed our world. Our love for others is suppose to set us apart, but if we refuse to demonstrate this love through humility, we are missing an amazing opportunity to not only show the love of Jesus, but to draw closer to Him ourselves.
Practice the art of humility. While we might be tempted to do something nice for someone we know pretty well… try doing it for someone else… someone that would never expect you to think of them. (And don’t forget to tell them that Jesus put them on your heart!)