9th Grader — Becky writes :
“I’m a homeschooled 9th grader. I have a question not related to child training. Is it possible to be humble, but confident at the same time? It seems that whenever I try to be humble, I lose all self-confidence and self-esteem and get so depressed… to the point where I cut [verbally] myself. But then, that’s not very humble, is it? When I’m confident, I’m often prideful, and it shows. If there is any way to be both humble and confident, please let me know how to do it. I’ve prayed and my mom has prayed, but that’s about all.” —Becky
Michael Pearl Answers:
Humility is not the trait of thinking of self as being of less worth. Humility is not thinking of self at all, whether good or bad. Humility is thinking of others and seeking their advancement. For you to be thinking about your condition and trying to be humble is pride itself, for it is valuing yourself above others, that is, measuring yourself against what you perceive they are thinking about you. Stop considering your humility and use your energies and confidence to help others.
There is nothing wrong with doing something well and knowing it—like music, art, sports, etc. Pride would be to use your successes to put others down and make them feel of less worth. It is fine to say, “I am the best violin player in the orchestra,”—if it is well known to be the case; but then you should use your skill and influence to raise the skill level of others and to encourage them. Then, if one of the others should surpass your skill, true humility would acknowledge that you are now second best, and you would rejoice in their abilities while continuing to improve yourself.
Bad-mouthing anyone, either yourself or others, is pride. Lifting everyone up―others first and then yourself―is true humility. But then, the truly humble person usually does not know he is humble, nor does he care. To strive for humility and believe you have reached it is to arrive at pride. To strive for humility and not reach it is to wallow in self-pity and condemnation, which is just another expression of pride.
Pursuing humility is like pursuing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It moves when you move and can never be attained. If one did pursue humility and actually attain it, it would be because he had forgotten his own personal aspirations while serving others, and he would be unaware of having achieved humility. Wow, this is rather philosophical for a ninth grader. Hope you can understand it. I must say, you caught my interest. With tongue in cheek, I say, “Let me know when you get to be humble.”
Your friend, Michael Pearl