A New Definition of Humility

March 25, 2022

By Karen Smith

What do you think of when you consider humility? I have a new definition for you.

A New Definition of Humility

A New Definition of Humility

Just be nice. Share. Be kind. Don’t argue. Love others. Sounds so simple, right? In reality, we are often pretty successful at being nice to others. Of course, we are human and have flaws. Therefore, we aren’t perfect at being nice to others, but many might say we are quite lovely individuals.

What happens when someone compliments you, such as saying, “You are quite lovely”? Do you sheepishly say “thank you” and duck your head in embarrassment? Do you have commentary that might sound something like this: “Oh, you don’t know me very well.” Or – “You don’t live with me.” Or – “You need new glasses.”

If you’re like me, the above commentary might accurately describe your response. Please don’t get me wrong when I say this, but we need to learn to accept compliments and allow them to change how we see ourselves. Did I tell you that you should walk around flaunting everything like you own the world? No, there is a delicate balance. However, I have found more women who didn’t know how to take a compliment than those who have taken it to the extreme.

Somehow, humility has come to mean low self-esteem or diminished self-confidence in today’s world. However, I think it might mean not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less. Read that definition again. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking about yourself less. When we embrace this definition of humility, it frees our hearts to receive compliments without shame and embarrassment.

Applying the New Definition of Humility

With the new definition of humility, how can we learn to embrace compliments from others? Here are several tips for you.

  1. Look at the person and say thank you. There needs to be no commentaries or low self-esteem demonstrated. When you duck your head, avoid eye contact and say thank you, you might as well not say thank you. Practice looking people in the eye and saying thank you. I know it will feel awkward at first, but remember receiving compliments is not thinking better of yourself or less of yourself.
  2. When someone compliments us, they are noticing Jesus in us. How does that compliment line up with who God says you are? Ponder that compliment later and allow yourself to see his power and presence flowing through you. 
  3. Allow it to change your internal dialogue. Instead of a commentary that says you don’t know me very well or you need new glasses, how about changing that dialogue? I’m thankful she noticed me displaying Jesus to others? Where is your focus in this mind shift? Are you focused on yourself or what Jesus is doing in and through you?
  4. Buy yourself flowers. I had a friend who blessed me with the following statement repeatedly: “You just threw my flowers on the ground.” Every time I would move into a low self-esteem position or a self-sabotaging commentary after a compliment, she would look me in the eyes and softly whisper that phrase in my ear. Today, each time I treat myself to flowers, it reminds me that accepting compliments doesn’t mean I’m better than everyone else. Instead, it’s a reminder that I am seen, known, and loved, and when people see me, they see a tiny bit of Jesus.

Don’t think less of yourself; think less of yourself and think more about Jesus in you. Feel God lavish his love on you through someone’s compliment.

Wife Step: Evaluate your inner dialogue and body position when someone compliments you. Do you need to buy yourself some flowers to help remind you that accepting compliments is a gift from God to you through someone else?

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Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children. Karen has served as Preschool and Children’s Pastor and has been involved in women’s ministry for many years leading small groups, making hospital visits, organizing retreats, and encouraging the hearts of women. Karen now blogs at Glimpses of Faith and Struggles.  What started out as a way to communicate medical facts has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey.  When she’s not busy caring for her family or writing, you might find her cooking or crafting.

  1. Susan says:

    Love this perspective! And I admit something I need to work on….or should I say buy myself some flowers! ❤️

  2. Thanks for the reminder! I’m bad at accepting compliments…, I take it a step further fearing what others think if I accept it. “She’s arrogant” … thanks friend I love this!!

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