True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. C.S. Lewis
Meditation: We are living in a time in history when narcissism seems to have become the “new normal”. It is apparently OK to behave and be self-absorbed, self-obsessed, conceited, self-centered and egotistic. The Christian Church throughout the centuries tried to prevent narcissistic behavior by prescribing humility. Humility was a very important value also in the Pietistic tradition. I grew up being taught to “think less of myself” as not to develop pride or hubris. This religious attempt to prevent and correct narcissistic tendencies backfired however. If you tell a developing young person to “be humble”, understood as “thinking less of themselves”, those youngsters often start to develop symptoms that range from low self-esteem to self-hatred. The religious zeal to prevent pride or hubris (today also classified as narcissism), often caused spiritual damage. Self-denial or self-deprecation can end up being just as destructive as narcissism can be. While narcissism is behavior that damages the other person, “false humility” is a stance and behavior that damages one’s own healthy sense of self. The third alternative is true and healthy humility. It emerges out of a solid sense of being loved and a healthy sense of self-love. As we love ourselves, we naturally begin to make space for others in our life. Healthy self-love, self-respect and self-care are essential characters of a person following Jesus’s example. As we develop a healthy relationship with ourselves, the spiritual development will be to think of ourselves less and of others more, because we can afford to do so. As we have a solid and kind relationship with ourselves, we can make room for others in our life. We develop compassion, kindness, patience and gentleness with others, because we have first learned to practice those loving virtues with ourselves.
Prayer: God, sometimes we Christians are trying to correct character flaws by going to the opposite extreme. We do not realize that our reactionary behavior and thinking can cause just as great harm. As Your dearly beloved, help us to continue to grow in those loving virtues and behaviors that include compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience with self and with others. Help our country to overcome the current narcissistic epidemic with those precious fruits of Your Spirit. And we are grateful. Amen
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12