I’ve been thinking a lot about Micah 6:8 and meditating on “what the Lord requires” of me. It’s interesting that in the directives to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, “walking humbly” is arguably easiest to grasp. We all know that we are supposed to be humble, and we have a pretty good understanding of the meaning of the word. But as far as actually living it out, I think walking humbly may be the hardest of the three requirements.

Sometimes the idea of humility gets twisted around, and we think that being humble is thinking that we have less to offer than others do. However, self-effacing and humble are not the same thing. If we sit around dwelling on how horrible and loathsome we are, our focus is still on self rather than others. We get trapped in self-doubt and fail to take any action. This attitude doesn’t help anyone.

Walking humbly is when we follow the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus wherever he leads. It’s dying to our own desires and pursuing a life that focuses on God instead of ourselves.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24

Not trying to be the hero

Humility is serving others not for the sake of our own image or self-esteem, but out of genuine love. We aren’t there to feel like a hero, but to think about the good of our neighbor.

 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

This is an issue that I have to combat in myself often. I get hung up on “solving the world’s problems” and forget my role. As Paul explained to the Corinthians so long ago: one disciple plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:5-7) No one person can possibly fix all the problems and have all of the answers.

Life is not like the hero movies we watch where a lone ranger swoops in and saves the day single-handed. We all have parts to contribute to the work that God is doing in the world, but none of us are saviors.

Willing to serve when the work isn’t glamorous

I’ve also fallen into the trap of thinking the best way to serve Jesus was through some grand gesture. I’ve been guilty of creating a ranking system in my mind for the varying “levels” of being a servant. Human nature tends to seek out the dramatic, which can bleed over into our faith, too.

God never ranks our service by how much attention it gives us, however. Whether we spend our lives traversing the globe to teach the story of Jesus, or whether we never leave our hometown because we are too busy serving our local community — we can all be of service.

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no [h]schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

1 Corinthians 12:20-27

Willing to be served

We need to allow other people the opportunity and blessing of serving us as well. When Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, Peter recoiled at first when Jesus came to him. He couldn’t imagine allowing the Son of God to honor him and take the role of a servant! Jesus rebuked him and insisted that he had to allow this.

How often are we like Peter? We think that we need to be the ones serving and won’t accept acts of service towards ourselves. Sometimes this stems from pride. Maybe we think that other people won’t do as good of a job, so we insist on handling it all alone. Perhaps we have internalized the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” trope and think there is shame in accepting a helping hand.

The body of Christ is called to serve and encourage each other. This can only work when there is cooperation among all of the members. This means that sometimes we are the foot-washers, and sometimes we have our feet washed. We need to have the humility to accept both roles.

Focus on God instead of ourselves

We could talk all day about tips and tricks to humility and to combating pride. At the end of the day, it all boils down to where our focus is. If we are focused on what makes us feel or look good, that is selfishness and pride. If we are focused on bringing glory to God alone, then we are headed in the right direction.