Humility and a repentance of self-loathing

Jason Miller explains that being humble is not just avoiding pride.


Rose Nickols, Conference Blogger

Kobe Bryant: basketball star. Some of us love him, some of us hate him. Kobe is someone who can confidently be labeled as prideful. Though much of what he says may make him come across as pretentious, if Kobe were to deny being good at basketball he would seem somewhat pathetic to the public. Both responses come across as prideful to a certain extent—you do not need to think or say you are impressive to be prideful. In focusing only on oneself, whether it be on one’s accomplishments or downfalls, it is easy to fall into pride and away from humility.

So when someone tells or asks you if you are good at something, how do you answer? Responding with a confident “Yes!” can come across as arrogant, no matter how kind you try to present yourself. However, belittling yourself will give you a bad rap too. This puts us in a tough position– would we rather come across as prideful or doubtful of our abilities?


As Christians, we are taught to be humble. However, we are told to be humble; many of us do not actually understand what “humble” truly means. During his breakout session, Jason Miller called us to live our lives in humility, explaining what it is to be “humble” in the true sense of the word.

when I first read the name of this breakout session, “Humility and a Repentance of Self-Loathing,” I thought, “Is that not a little bit contradictory?” Of course, it is not biblical to loathe oneself, but I thought that being humble required lowering yourself to a point of putting yourself below everyone else. Curious, I looked up the definition of humble. What I found was this:


  1. having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance


  1. lower (someone) in dignity or importance.

So if this is the definition of “humble,” how does it make sense to be humble and at the same time really love oneself?


Adjunct Talbot professor Jason Miller explains to us that the reason we so often fall into a place of self-loathing when we are trying to rebuke pride in our lives is that we have been taught humility is lowering ourselves, humility is generally defined as a “lack of pride.” As Miller pointed out, this is an insufficient, unhelpful definition. He compared defining humility in this way to naming a dog as “not a cat.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but it’s a dog. ‘Not a cat’ doesn’t count.”

Throughout history, humility has scarcely been defined as anything but a lack of pride. In this sense of nothingness, we are being told to suppress the talents God has blessed us with that we should be using to bring glory to him and expand His Kingdom. We must not use these gifts to uplift ourselves, but our spirit has been blessed with skill and capacity, made to build and advance a relationship with God and others.

In psychology, humility is defined as “an accurate view of self.” To be truly humble we must recognize that the God who gives us breath made us with meaning and purpose. See your value and worth, and then you have the ability to lower any need for status and dependency on the values others place on you. You can be humble in the confidence you have of who you are made to be, seeking Jesus’ example, as then there is no need to defend your talents and proclaim all your achievements to the world, or belittle yourself in the hopes that others will see uplift you or see you as “lacking pride.”   

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