“I’m a homeschooled 9th grader. I have a question not related to child training. Is it possible to be humble, but confident at the same time? It seems that whenever I try to be humble, I lose all self confidence and self esteem and get so depressed… to the point where I cut myself. But then that’s not very humble, is it? When I’m confident, I’m often prideful and it shows. If there is any way to be both humble and confident? Please let me know how to do it. I’ve prayed and my mom has prayed but that’s about all.”
—Becky

Becky,

Humility is not the trait of thinking of self as of less worth. Humility is not thinking of self at all, whether good or bad. Humility is thinking of others and seeking their advancement. To think about your condition and try to be humble is pride itself, for it is valuing self above all. Stop considering your humility and use your energies and confidence to help others.

There is nothing wrong with doing something well and knowing it—like music, art, sports, etc. Pride would be to use your successes to put others down and make them feel of less worth. It is fine to say, “I am the best violin player in the orchestra”—if it is well known to be the case; but then you should use your skill to raise the skill level of others and to encourage them. Then, if one of the others should surpass your skill, true humility would acknowledge that you are now second best and you would rejoice in their abilities while continuing to improve.

Poor-mouthing anyone, yourself or others, is pride. Lifting everyone up, others first and then yourself, is humility.

But then the truly humble person does not know he is humble, nor does he care. To strive for humility and reach it is to arrive at pride. To strive for humility and not reach it is to wallow in self pity and condemnation, which is just another expression of pride.

Pursuing humility is like pursuing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It moves when you move and can never be attained. If one did pursue humility and actually attain it he would have forgotten his quest in service to others, and he would find not satisfaction in his success at humility. Wow, this is rather psychological for a ninth grader. Hope you can understand it. I must say, you caught my interest.

With tongue in cheek, I say, “Let me know when you get to be humble.”

Your friend,
Michael Pearl