Understanding Humility, Pride, and Strength

Walter Starcke

The best way to hide a secret is to make it obvious and put it right out in full view. We all tend to look in distant esoteric corners while the truth at hand is so simple that we miss it. Take living the spiritual life, for instance. We spend our whole lives going to the far corners of the earth to find out what living spiritually means while all the time it is just what the word says: spirit. When the spirit in which we do something is more important to us than the results we wish to achieve, we are spiritual. When results are more important to us than how we go about getting them, we are materialists. It's that simple.

It may be simple for me to say but it is difficult to habitually follow because we have been conditioned all of our lives to look at life primarily objectively in terms of results and secondarily in terms of the spirit underlying our intent. The time has come when we may have to stop being factual and start re-examining every thought we think in terms of the spirit inherent in our words and acts.

To begin with, we have to realize several basic things. First, our nature is infinity; therefore, every imaginable quality or character trait is incorporated in our all-inclusive essential being. Second, there isn't anything in us or our potential that is either bad or good in itself. Third, everything can be used for either good or evil depending on the spirit that inhabits its use.

Words are no exception. Our concepts are empowered by the words we use, and we are prisoners of our concepts in that they become the self-created laws by which we live. The spirit in which we conceive of a word dictates its effect on us and on our lives; therefore, we must use words rather than be used by them. In order not to be used by words we have to "double think." That means we have to think multi-dimensionally and be simultaneously aware of how a word or idea applies subjectively at the level of spirit and how it works at the objective level of egotism.

Take the word "pride" for instance. All of our lives we have heard, "Pride comes before the fall," and there are many particularly Old Testament scriptures, such as Proverbs 11:13, which have conditioned the word. It says, "When pride cometh, then cometh shame. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them." That makes it sound as though anyone who has any pride will be destroyed. Yet we turn right around and tell people that they should have pride in their work, etc. What is the answer? Here again pride is part of one's infinite nature. It has a good use and it can also be misused. The difference is whether pride is objective or subjective. If one is proud of results, egotism may have colored the spirit of one's pride but if the spirit of one's pride is a thankfulness for "being about my father's business," for having the capacity to be creative, that is another matter. If pride stems from self-respect, with a capital S, then by all means a sense of pride should accompany our actions. Otherwise, we are denying our oneness with the source, that we are made in the image of God. If we are not proud of our godly potential, we will never demonstrate it.

Humility is another of those words that has now come to stand for something entirely different than its root meaning. The word humility comes from the Latin word for the earth, "humus." In that sense, to have humility is to acknowledge one's grounding, to be proud of one's humanity. Unfortunately, humility has come to mean lowliness and self-abasement. Mister or Miss Mouse in the office who is subservient to everyone and puts him or herself down isn't humble. He or she has the worst case of self-centered ego in the office.

True humility flies in the face of much that has traditionally been taught. Believing that being humble means acknowledging that we are sinners or that we should debase our humanity anchors us to limitation and self-indulgence. Acknowledging the divinity of our God-given humanity is true humility. In that, spiritual pride and humility are two sides of the same coin.

By and large, the same people who consider self-effacement to be a virtue think of God as something other than their own true nature. To them, humility is seen as an act of self-depreciation which isn't complete until one has reduced one's self to nothingness. Such a concept is the opposite of humility. It is not humility. It is humiliation One humiliates one's self before the eyes of God. That's a pity, because the message of Christ is not fulfilled until one thinks of one's self as having been created in the image of God.

Paul had the right idea when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me." That shows he viewed life from a "double thread" approach, both subjectively and objectively. By using the word "me," Paul showed that he knew he had a personal sense of self which could do a job, but at the same time that he could only do it when he was in Christ consciousness. Paul didn't say, "I can do all things through Jesus." Though Jesus, the man, was doubtless his model, Paul knew he could of himself do nothing unless he was in a godly state of consciousness. That is humility. He acknowledged his humanity but demonstrated his humility by stating that he could do anything when he was operating out of his higher consciousness.

True spiritual pride acknowledges one's inherent divinity but is free from either hubris or egotism. Humility free from ego is not self-depreciation or limitation but rather an honest realization that when one's full potential is present in one's consciousness, one can do anything. The Christ, higher consciousness, is a synonym or metaphor for love, which in truth is a metaphor for God. When a person is in that loving state of consciousness, true humility exists.

Once more, our infinite nature includes every emotion, every feeling, every thought, and every intent, even anger and fear. Remember that Jesus was plenty angry when he chased the money changers out of the temple, but he used his anger in the spirit of love, and he was not used by it. Even in anger he had humility because he was using it for a divine purpose and was expressing his own wholeness. Every aspect of our personalities is part of God's wholeness and has its right use and time. When we find ourselves feeling insecure, resentful, or any of the other feelings we have commonly been told we should overcome, our first thought should be to examine our feelings and find out what they are telling us in terms of spirit.

This is not to say that all feelings are always appropriate or that when some of them get too intense or overblown they represent humility. For instance, extreme anxiety is not humbleness. It is atheistic. Anyone who does not believe in him or her self is an atheist. Atheists lack humility because they do not believe they are made in the image of God.

In the evolution of soul consciousness, there comes a time when we reach a turning point. After we arrive we have the ability to be humble. We can turn around and see our masks, our personalities, for what they are materialistic interpretations of our identities. After the turning point we are able to become consciously aware whether we are living by our lower consciousness or by our higher Spirit. Then, indeed, humility is the process of humiliating our inferior sense of self so that our true selves can be in the driver's seat.

One who has humility is one who knows God to be their true presence rather than a self who claims a life apart from God. Humility is God's smile. It is a time when we wink at the illusion of a self apart from God, when we recognize that the mask of self is only a mask.

Humility is the soul's ego. Humility and its complementary side, confidence, is the realization that it is all God.

Finally, strength. How does strength fit into the picture? Objectively, strength has to do with one's energy, one's muscles, and one's will power. Subjectively, our strength is not in what we do but in who we are. It has to do with our ability to walk our talk. Ultimately the only true strength is in our capacity to remember that God is the only cause and presence, and also that we are that presence.

Like faith, we do not know how strong we are until we are tested. If we can engender the spirit of love despite negative appearances and regardless of possible consequences, we have true strength. It takes strength to remember who we are. It takes strength to love those who despitefully use us. In pride born of humility is our strength.