Have you ever heard this definition of humble? “To be humble, you don’t have to think less of yourself. You just have to think of yourself less.” When we’re not humble, we’re probably pretentious. Here’s a story to illustrate that, written by anonymous:
I parked in front of the mall to wipe off my car after coming out of the car wash. I noticed a man that looked like a bum coming across the parking lot toward me. By his looks, I could tell he had nothing.
“I hope he doesn’t ask me for any money,” I thought. He didn’t. He sat on the curb in front of the bus stop, but he didn’t look like he could afford to even ride the bus. After a few minutes, he spoke. “That’s a pretty car.”
“Thanks,” I said and continued wiping off my car. He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened, something inside said, “Ask him if he needs any help.” I was sure that he would say “yes,” but I held true to my inner voice anyway. “Do you need any help?” I asked.
Instead of the outstretched grimy hand, I expected, he answered with three simple words that I’ll never forget. “Don’t we all?”
I felt high and mighty and above that man until those three words hit me like a downpour when I didn’t have an umbrella. Don’t we all? I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him enough for bus fare and a meal.
But he reached into his heart and gave me himself and his wisdom.
That day I learned no matter how much we have, no matter how much we accomplish, we all need help. And he taught me no matter how little we have or how laden we are with problems, we can give help, too.
We’re all God’s children. The most important thing we can do to humble ourselves so we’re ready to help is to stop pretending to be what we know we are not.
Thomas Merton said about it: “Pride makes us artificial. Humility makes us real.” So, go out today and be real!