7 Ways To Put On Humility


photo by Chiot's Run

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

One of my favorite cartoon characters is a skunk – Pepe Le Pew, and one of my favorite sayings of his is “Makes me feel humble, yet sort of proud.” ?I regularly quote this to my wife.

Another one of my favorite quotes is by Mohammed Ali: “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.”

I think deep down inside most of us think of ourselves a lot like Mohammed Ali. Only most of us are smart enough to know not to say it out loud. If we don’t think we are great, we’re depressed because we think we should be great.

I think that’s why Peter says to “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.” Humility isn’t natural to fallen humans. But when Jesus saves us and fills us with his Spirit, we begin to change. But it doesn’t happen automatically. We must make an effort ? clothe ourselves – with humility.

We must put humility on. This doesn’t mean we fake it, but that we begin to do it, even though it takes effort. Putting on humility isn’t easy. After all, it’s not easy to be humble when we’re as great as we are. ?But it can be done.

Here are a few suggestions for how to put on humility:

Listen to others.

And while you are listening don’t try to think of the next thing you’re going to say. If you find yourself interjecting, “But? But? But” it’s usually a tipoff that you’re probably not listening. And sticking your fingers in your ears and saying,”Ah-ba-ba-ba-ba” is not a real good sign you’re listening either.

Be teachable.

A sign you’re not teachable is if you can’t wait for people to stop telling you something. You keep thinking I know that, I know that?. yes, I already know that ? aargh! I know everything you’re going to say in advance.

Don’t blame others for your sins.

Well I wouldn’t have smashed your windshield if you hadn’t first given me that funny look. I wouldn’t have gotten angry at you if you hadn’t rolled your eyes at me. You see, when someone rolls their eyes at me I fly into an uncontrollable rage. In fact, you caused my rage. It’s actually your sin.

Don’t be so sure you’re right all the time.

I have news for you ? there are actually people in the world who know more than you. And I hate to break your heart, but there are actually people in the world who are more discerning than you.

Take an interest in others.

Here’s another top secret tip for you ? other people are really interesting and fascinating. Probably not as interesting and fascinating as you, but try to take an interest in them anyway. A humble person tries to draw others out. ?Here’s how you can do it ? ask them questions about themselves, for example,”Oh, so you are into beekeeping? How did you ever get interested in that bor–I mean, fascinating hobby? ?How many times have you been stung? Have you ever gone into anaphylactic shock? Are you any relation to Billy the Exterminator?” Humble people are interested in others.

Ask for forgiveness; don’t just say I’m sorry.

Say “Please forgive me for?” rather than “I’m sorry if…” Don’t say, “I’m sorry if you were offended by my oh so tactful comments. I’m sorry you’re so dang sensitive and immature that I can’t call you an idiot without you getting all in a dither about it.”

Ask for prayer for areas of weakness and temptation.

And don’t ask for prayer for an “unspoken request”. Where did unspoken requests come from anyway? ?I don’t remember reading anywhere “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another’s unspoken requests”. It’s humbling to ask others to pray for us because that’s admitting we’re weak. And we want everyone to think we’re strong.

Clothe yourself with humility. Cover yourself in it. If God’s command alone isn’t enough, then do it for this reason ? “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ?You don’t really want God opposing you, do you? And you want God to give you grace ? favor ? right?


  • Elaine says:

    As I'm reading through the artice, I am thinking of a certain someone who could really benefit from this post. But then the Lord reminds me that I am the one who needs to put these suggestions into practice!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    You're probably thinking of me Elaine….I could probably benefit by doing all these things more…..thanks for reading our posts and being so encouraging!

  • Terri says:

    Thank you, Mark, for this funny, insightful, practical post. I will be revisiting your suggestions often. Very helpful!

  • Larry says:

    When you think God, creator of the heavens and the earth, actually opposes the proud……..that is not a place I want to be. Unfortunately, I have found myself there. Like many traits of fallen man, it can keep sneaking up on you and the old man comes out. I guess that is why Paul makes this an action statement, "Clothe yourself…"

    Here is a question for you Mark. When Paul says, "all of you" is that phrase in reference to clothing the entire man, your entire being, or is that a reference to all people should clothe themselves with humility? My original interpretation was that all people should be clothed with humility. But I also like the idea that a person should be totally enveloped in humility where none of Larry shows through.

    On a lighter note, I had a little different take on Ali's quote. I would say, jokingly, "It's hard to be humble when you are this good. But if anyone can do it, I can!" Thanks for the great reminder!

  • Eddy Barnes says:

    Great post. I've often appreciated the definition of humility as "self-forgetfulness," since apart from forgetting about myself, I'm always feeling proud of my humility.

    As a side note, I have actually met a guy named Billy who was an Exterminator. He was super nice.


  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Great Terri! Thanks!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hey Larry, I think the sense of the Scripture was that Peter was talking to a church or churches, thus believers. So he's saying, "All you believers, be humble, put on humility toward one another." I think that it could be expanded that we should clothe ourselves with humility even toward unbelievers as well though. I like your take on Ali's quote. Thanks for your comments – I think they're all good ways to think about being humble.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Hi Eddy! I like that – self-forgetfulness. Great definition of humility. I'd like to meet the real Billy the Exterminator – he seems like he's a nice guy too.

  • Eric Grover says:

    Great reminder Mark. Even though it's possible to "act humble" in our speech to impress others, we shouldn't become jaded. Genuine humility is possible and commanded!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Eric – Yep I want to be genuinely humble– I need God's help to do it but I agree it is possible and commanded

  • David Paul says:

    Just what I need to start everyday. Humblenes is Greatness. Thank you so much Stephen.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks David! Yes – humbleness is greatness – great way to put it.

  • Dean Bertsch says:

    Thanks for beating me up, Mark. Who gave you access to my private, internal diary? Actually, feel free to use it for future articles. I find "pats on the back" to be nice; "slaps in the face" to be effective. Keep on slapping!

  • Maria says:

    This is a great lesson, Mark, one I need to be reminded of over and over. Thanks for articulating such an important foundation. And I really appreciate your sarcastic tone throughout:) Humor makes it not sting so much!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Dean, can you send me a hard copy of that diary? Thanks for your encouragement! The only problem with slapping is I'm slapping myself at the same time.

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Thanks Maria! Just trying to make it fun….

  • Kitty says:

    Ouch !
    …but thanks, yes we all need a little refresher every now and then.
    I have learned that if I shut my ' trap', listen more,and then take a pause , God's Holy Spirit has a chance to guide me . Some times just to tell me just shut up—
    I try to remember that even if I have heard it all before—perhaps the speaker needs to say it out loud.
    Now I will shut up lol

  • royal farris says:

    Thanks Mark …. I am referencing your post on my blog …..

  • Caroline says:

    This post just humbled me :( thank you for pointing out the sin areas with a sense of humour.. I think i need all those suggestions…

  • Simone Godde says:

    Very helpful, researching for a talk on the prayer of the Pharasee & tax collector, those who are humbled will be exalted…trying to think through more practically, your post very helpful, think in Luke 18 the consequences are more serious, that is a genuine soul humbleness & its consequences for lack there of are eternal. YSIC SImone Sydney

  • MarkAltrogge says:

    Yes Simone, pride often has very serious consequences…sometimes eternal.

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