3 Ways to Nurture Humility

Written by Gabrielle Lee, Singapore

Humility—a word easier said than done.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people”.

This is how the world understands the word. But what does the Bible have to say about it? Philippians 2:5-8 points us to Christ as the perfect example of what humility looks like in the flesh:

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

For someone who struggles with pride—like me—this is no easy feat. However, something I have learnt about humility is that God, in His grace, will always bring me back to the lessons that I need to learn. Here are three steps that I try to practise to keep myself on the right track.

  1. Take pride in the One who gives you your skills and successes

Humility begins with knowing and acknowledging the source of all our successes and accomplishments—God. It is God who has given us our skills and talents, and we are to use them wisely for His glory’s sake.

Keeping a journal is helpful, as it reminds us of how God is working in our lives (lest we forget and give undue credit to ourselves). Personally, I like to look back on the prayers and milestones recorded in my journal and see how God has preserved me in small and big ways. They remind me of His faithfulness, and help cultivate a heart of thankfulness in me.

2. Seek the right perspective and the right counsel

Humility is a tough lesson and it will take a lifetime to cultivate. On this journey of nurturing humility and becoming more Christ-like, there will definitely be ups and downs.

Knowing this truth helps me to be ready for potential setbacks—such as when I am told about my “unteachable” behavior in spite of my best attempts to demonstrate humility at work. Having the right perspective helps me to persevere in my pursuit of true Christ-like humility.

It also helps to seek godly counsel from others. My closest friends and family have constantly humbled me with their stories of faith, and I have learned a great deal from them. They are the people I turn to whenever I need godly counsel, because they know my weaknesses and struggles and I can be honest about them.

I strongly encourage you to seek to be a part of a community of like-minded believers with whom you can be comfortable and who can keep you accountable as they walk alongside you in this journey of growing in humility and Christ-likeness.

3. Become more aware . . . of yourself and others

God has created all of us differently. Knowing our own weaknesses and strengths helps us to better appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Want to grow in greater humility? Mix with people who are better—that would be a humbling process for sure.

One way to develop your self-awareness is to track and note down what triggers prideful behavior. Are there specific instances when you start getting arrogant or defensive? It could be at gatherings with friends, where you feel a sudden urge to boast about your achievements to fit in or impress others.

Reflect on such moments, and try to trace the triggers so that you can consciously choose to respond differently the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

You could also say a short prayer and surrender your prideful thoughts to God, asking Him to take your thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), or memorize a portion of Scripture that can help when the time comes.

Pursuing humility is a tough battle against the very grain of our human nature—pride. But we can draw strength from the knowledge that it was one of the most distinctive marks of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He didn’t hesitate to wash the feet of His followers, and humbled himself even till the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Do you desire to be more like Christ? Start by taking small steps in pursuing humility today.

ODJ: Jesus Stayed Here

April 14, 2016 

READ: Luke 2:1-7 

While they were there, . . . [Mary] gave birth to . . . a son. She . . . placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them (vv.6—7 niv). 

Raffles Hotel in Singapore is a legendary 5—star hotel that boasts a long list of distinguished former guests, including King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and the King of Pop Music—Michael Jackson. Immortalized by writers like Rudyard Kipling and Ernest Hemingway, there are suites named after personalities who were associated with the hotel: Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Joseph Conrad, Noel Coward, Pablo Neruda, and W. Somerset Maugham, who is reputed to have spent his days writing at the hotel.

Joseph and Mary once looked for some lodging in the little town of Bethlehem (Luke 2:1—4)—a relatively unknown, small Judean village (Matthew 2:6). Nothing in town was really worth a visit. But from that night onward, it became famous. Bethlehem, meaning the “house of bread,” became the birthplace of the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

Surely, there would be someone kind enough to give up a room for a woman in labor, right? After all, many of the people who lived in or were returning to Bethlehem were related to Joseph (Luke 2:3—4). But none were prepared to give them a place to stay. There was no room for King Jesus!

Eventually, the couple chose to take shelter where some animals were kept, probably a cave. And as the animals munched their hay, the Son of God came into this world.

It’s interesting that the God of all creation would choose such a humble place for His Son’s first appearance on earth. Paul wrote that Jesus “gave up his divine privileges; [taking] the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” What’s more, “He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7—8).

What an amazing, humble Savior we serve!

—K. T. Sim

365-day-plan: 1 Kings 3:16-28

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18—29 to see how God carries out His plans in ways that surprise and amaze us. 
Consider that this world had no room for God when He came for a visit. Have you made room for Jesus in your heart? If you have, how has His presence changed you? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODB: You First!

January 19, 2016 

READ: Philippians 2:1-11 

[Jesus] humbled himself.

Philippians 2:8


Tibetan-born Sherpa Nawang Gombu and American Jim Whittaker reached the top of Mount Everest on May 1, 1963. As they approached the peak, each considered the honor of being the first of the two to step to the summit. Whittaker motioned for Gombu to move ahead, but Gombu declined with a smile, saying, “You first, Big Jim!” Finally, they decided to step to the summit at the same time.

Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to demonstrate this kind of humility. He said, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4 nkjv). Selfishness and superiority can divide people, but humility unites us, since it is the quality of “being one in spirit and of one mind” (v. 2).

When quarrels and disagreements occur, we can often diffuse them by giving up our right to be right. Humility calls us to show grace and gentleness when we would rather insist on our own way. “In humility value others above yourselves” (v. 3).

Practicing humility helps us to become more like Jesus who, for our sake, “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death” (vv. 7-8). Following in Jesus’ footsteps means backing away from what is best for us and doing what is best for others.

— Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Jesus, You gave up Your life for me. Help me to see each sacrifice I make as a reflection of Your humility. In putting others first, let me honor You.

Humility promotes unity.


ODJ: little town of bethlehem

December 24, 2015 

READ: Luke 2:1-7 

While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son (vv.6-7). 

December can be filled with a lot of traveling. Some take vacations at exotic, faraway destinations. Adult children go home to see their parents. Relatives and friends come for a visit.

But this Christmas, would you take a 90-mile road trip by foot down dangerous mountain roads? Would you travel to a place where all the 5-star hotels (and 1- to 4-stars, too) were fully booked? Would you still make the journey if your wife was about to give birth to your first child?

For one young couple, there was no choice about their difficult journey. Mary and Joseph were compelled by law to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem—easily 4 days of travel time (Luke 2:2-6).

Bethlehem was the burial place of Rachel—wife of Jacob. The love story of Boaz and Ruth took place here. Besides being also the hometown of David, Israel’s greatest king, there isn’t much more about this little village that’s really worth discussing. In fact, Bethlehem is well-known because of its insignificance. It’s famous for being the least of all villages in Judea (Matthew 2:6).

But on that special night long ago, something of cosmic and eternal significance occurred in the little town of Bethlehem. “While they were there, . . . [Mary] gave birth to her first child, a son” (Luke 2:6-7). The prophet Micah spoke of this birth hundreds of years before. “You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf” (Micah 5:2).

One other thing about Bethlehem—it means “house of bread.” So it’s fitting that this was the birthplace of Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:35). His journey to earth has made all the difference.

—K.T. Sim

365-day-plan: 2 Peter 1:2-21

Read Luke 2:15-20 and Matthew 2:1-12 and consider the journeys that certain people made to see Jesus just after His birth. 
What is God teaching you about what it means to trust Him in life’s journey? How does Jesus’ story encourage you to follow God by faith? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)