Christianity Today recently reported that “2 Chronicles 7:14 … has become a mantra among [Donald Trump’s] supporters: ‘If [God’s] people … will humble themselves … then [God] will … heal their land.’” How sad that the people best noted for quoting that verse are the same people now most associated with asserting their opinions in ways completely antithetical to humility.
Whatever your own political opinions, please don’t read the above either as a trigger for defensiveness, or as justification for “I’m not like ‘those others’” smugness. Once we’re infected with the attitude “I’m right, period,” it doesn’t matter how sound anyone’s arguments are: it becomes a matter of pride versus pride, and no matter who gets the last word, both sides lose respect, goodwill, and chances of making much progress either in the relationship or on the actual problem.
Perhaps your own household is plagued by chronic pride that manifests in chronic arguing. If your kids defy everything you say, you may both be humility-deficient. And as the adult, you have responsibility to set an example and humble yourself first.
Humility Does Not Mean Becoming a Doormat
Some parents, after reading the previous sentence, are thinking, “You’re crazy! Do you know what would happen if I always gave my kids whatever they demanded?!” But humility is not about automatically letting the other party have their way. True humility means admitting you’re rarely 100 percent right; giving the other person’s view full consideration; being willing to learn from them; and, when you do stick to your guns, being quietly firm while staying kind and respectful. When you exercise this sort of humility, your children may still be disappointed and even angry, but they’ll know you’ve given them a fair hearing. And they’ll be more cooperative, and more willing to understand your point of view rather than seeing you simply as a dictator.
Humility on the Larger Scale
Kids also catch humility—or its opposite—from your attitudes toward those outside the household. If you have any of the following habits—
- Verbally running down your boss or Congressional representative in everyday household conversation
- Being polite to people’s faces and then saying what you really think of them behind their backs
- Getting “drafted” into online “flame wars”
- Blaming everyone but yourself for your problems (especially if this involves scapegoating any demographic group outside your own)
—now is the time to ditch those habits, before your kids start spreading more “us versus them” attitudes into the larger world. If you can’t say anything positive about opinions you disagree with, forget about those opinions entirely, and focus on other positive things in life.
Humility Pays Off
If you need further motivation to embrace humility for yourself and your children, consider that you’ll be much happier without the mental ball and chain of “I must have my way at all costs.” When you’re willing to accept that you aren’t entitled to a world arranged to your preferences, you cast off the negative energy of resentment. And you’ll find that when you stop trying to bully the world, it becomes much more willing to follow your humility example and cooperate with you!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!