Our culture doesn’t value humility and so, if you’re not committed to fostering it, you will soon find that pride fills the place of humility.
Of course, there’s plenty that tries to bloat our self-worth. Social media platforms make us drown in self-love. They promote user interaction through asking us to think about ourselves—‘tell us what you are doing now’; and by continually inviting us to express our likes and opinions.
Yet, as C. S. Lewis said, a person who is truly humble, ‘will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.’ We need to teach our children to think about themselves less and think about others more—to count others more significant than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
C. S. Lewis said, a person who is truly humble, ‘will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.’ We need to teach our children to think about themselves less and think about others more.
How can we do it? Below is a list of how to do this; specifically, 6 ways to foster humble children:
1. Cultivate a healthy awe of God in your family to teach your children humility.
I wonder if you’ve ever felt humbled. For me, one of the most humbling experiences in my life was when I went to medical school. As an undergraduate, I smashed almost all of my exams. I became proud and decided to enter medical school. However, at medical school, I found I was no longer the top performer in my class. In fact, I was very average and had to work harder than most to get pass marks. It was incredibly humbling!
We feel smallest when things around us are big. This should be especially true when it comes to God. When we show our children how they compare with God, they’ll rightly feel humbled and in awe of God.
If we are tempted to believe we’re something great, looking to God, will quickly remind us how small we are. Conversely, when we are faced with our own weakness, looking to God will remind us that it’s not about us and our abilities.
God is the objective standard by which we must measure everything. If we do so, we will start to become wise.
This is the kind of awe we need to cultivate toward God—both for ourselves and the children who will follow our example.
2. Modelling is needed to teach your children humility
Children love to copy their role models! The other day, my friend was having a frustrating day and she did something she doesn’t often do: she cursed, using a particularly bad word in front of her three-year-old. Soon, she was devastated to find her three-year-old freely soon using this offensive word as frequently as one might use a conjunction.
Children see, children do. They copy our example, whether we like it or not. If we want our children to be humble, we need to be humble ourselves.
And isn’t this what Jesus does? He teaches his people humility by humbling himself greatly and suffering the highest form of humiliation, death on the cross. (Phil 2:8).
3. Encouragement is needed to teach your children humility
What is better than to ‘let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.’ (Prov 27:2).
Prideful people often boast about themselves in an effort to bolster their own image. In my experience, many of these are trying to compensate for a lack of encouragement from their parents.
On the other hand, some of the humblest people I’ve known have come from families who’ve supported and loved them when they were little. They learned from experience that they didn’t need to boast about themselves: their actions would be noticed and praised in due time.
Giving our children this positive and encouraging environment early-on can cushion us against an insecurity that craves continual affirmation—they already know that they are loved and accepted by their parents.
As parents, we need to readily praise and encourage our children when we see traits of humility in them.
So, as parents, we need to readily praise and encourage our children—especially when we see traits of humility in them.
4. Prayer is needed to teach your children humility
When we pray, we are admitting that we need someone who is wiser, stronger and better than we are. The more we pray, the more we humbly lean on God. In this instance, we have to let go of pride because we have no warrant for it! When we pray, we can also bring our pride before the Lord, and ask Him to replace it with humility.
Cultivating a prayer habit with our families can help our children inherit this perspective too. Modelling humility through prayer is powerful.
5. The Word is needed to teach your children humility
The Bible—especially the Wisdom books—shows us how humility and pride look in action. It exposes our sin too. If we can show our children that we allow the Bible to rebuke us personally it will be very powerful. It will also make it much easier when it comes to pointing out their own sin and pride.
If we can show our children that we allow the Bible to rebuke us personally it will be very powerful.
Of course sometimes the opposite is true too! It’s great when we can show our children that they have acted in way that lines up with his Word.
6. Lowliness is needed to teach your children humility
The Bible says we should be willing to associate with people in lowly positions (e.g. Rom 12:16). People like: refugees, poor people, awkward people, smelly people, badly dressed people.
But we parents need to model this first if we want our children to do it. If we’re not doing it, they won’t either.
The Rewards of Humility for Humble Children
- Although teaching humility is a lot of hard work, we’re told that the resultant riches will be far greater—incomparable with the work we put into teaching it. The Bible tells us that if we are humble:
- we will one day be exalted (Luke14:11).
- we will have favour shown to us (Proverbs 3:34)
- we will get wisdom (Proverbs 11:2)
- honour will proceed humility (Proverbs 15:33) and
- we will one day be crowned with victory! (Psalm 149:4)
So teaching and fostering humility in our children will be one of the best gifts we can give them. When we ourselves turn away from pride and embrace humility; when we encourage our children and train them to walk godly lives before our great and awesome God, we will be preparing them (and ourselves) for the richest of blessings and the greatest glory. What a worthwhile goal!