Exercises in Humility

This challenge is to engage in practices of humility. Specifically, read through the following list of principles for humility adapted from Jeremy Taylor’s writing (1613-1667). Select three of the principles to put into practice this week:

  1. Do not think better of yourself because of any outward circumstance that happens to you.
  2. Humility does not consist in criticizing yourself, or wearing ragged clothes, or walking around submissively wherever you go. Humility consists in a realistic opinion of yourself, namely, that you are an unworthy person.
  3. When you hold this opinion of yourself, be content that others think the same of you.
  4. Nurture a love to do good things in secret, concealed from the eyes of others, and therefore not highly esteemed because of them.
  5. Never be ashamed of your birth, of your parents, your occupation, or your present employment, or the lowly status of any of them.
  6. Never say anything, directly or indirectly, that will provoke praise or elicit compliments from others.
  7. When you do receive praise for something you have done, take it indifferently and return it to God.
  8. Make a good name for yourself by being a person of virtue and humility.
  9. Do not take pride in any praise given to you. Rejoice in God who gives gifts others can see in you, but let it be mixed with holy respect, so that this good does not turn into evil.
  10. As in the sixth rule, do not ask others your faults with the intent or purpose being to have others tell you of your good qualities.
  11. When you are slighted by someone, or feel undervalued, do not harbor any secret anger, supposing that you actually deserve praise and that they overlooked your value, or that they neglected to praise you because of their own envy.
  12. Do not entertain any of the devil’s whispers of pride, such as that of Nebuchadnezzar: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the honor of my name, and the might of my majesty, and the power of my kingdom?”
  13. Take an active part in the praising of others, entertaining their good with delight.
  14. Be content when you see or hear that others are doing well in their jobs and with their income, even when you are not. In the same manner, be content when someone else’s work is approved and yours is rejected.
  15. Never compare yourself with others unless it be to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself.
  16. Do not constantly try to excuse all of your mistakes.
  17. Give God thanks for every weakness, fault, and imperfection you have. Accept it as a favor of God, an instrument to resist pride and nurse humility.
  18. Do not expose others’ weaknesses in order to make them feel less able than you.
  19. Remember that what is most important to God is that we submit ourselves and all that we have to him.

Adapted from “The Grace of Humility” in Devotional Classics (Revised and Expanded) by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith. 2005. pages 244-248.