404 Humility vs Servanthood

Humility vs Servanthood

Humility is a curious thing. I’m not sure if you can master it. And if you have, it would be ironic to say so. But one thing I’ve learned is that there is a difference between humility and servanthood.

I’ve never had much of an issue serving others. I do well putting others first. But over the past few years as I’ve become secure in my identity in Christ, I realize that servanthood and humility are two different things.

Someone who serves is not necessarily humble but someone who is humble always serves.

Humility is a position, not an action. Humility is a position of dependence on someone greater than yourself. This then directs the motivation for all service.

Many times throughout my life I’ve served others for various reasons:

  • I thought others were better (i.e. more valuable) than me.
  • I thought others were more worthy of being served.
  • I felt obligated.
  • I wanted to receive approval for serving.
  • I wanted to appear humble.

None of these actions were rooted in humility. They were rooted in insecurity and ultimately focused on myself more than others.

On the other hand, humility doesn’t focus on self at all. Humility is always focused on others; for the sake of others and not your own. Humility doesn’t look to others for any of the reasons I listed above. Humility is fully dependent on God as the Source of our identity.

Just because I serve others, doesn’t necessarily mean I am humble. But when I position myself correctly, serving others becomes a joyful overflow of what I have already received in Christ.

How do you view humility?


  1. Great post! Jesus was the perfect example of humility.
    Brandon Gilliland recently posted..Do Your Blog Posts Demand Too Much Time From Others?

  2. Tony, this is a timely post. I didn’t read your post until this morning, but I wrote about some of the same things in my blog yesterday. One passage of scripture that keeps coming back to me is Philippians 2:3-11. Christ modeled humility based servanthood.
    Jon Stolpe recently posted..Walking The Tightropes of Life – Balancing Things Like Humility and Pride

  3. Hi Tony,

    Humility requires dying to ego, narcissism, entitlement, and everything in us that isn’t grateful.
    When I serve others I see myself as serving Him.
    Debra recently posted..Ostracized

  4. Think about this: When was the last time you heard someone preach on the humility of God? Exactly. It will open a world that we’ve hardly traversed if we start there.

  5. So many times we see people who are “above” us as people who are proud, and see poor people who serve as being humble. A person’s “position” should never dictate humility or pride. Yes, it’s true that with “platforms” there is a greater danger of pride, but even the poor deal with pride issues.

    Us humans deal with pride on a daily basis. In fact, that’s what made the devil, the devil. All sins can find their roots in pride. I would even say that humility is blind. The person that touts themselves as humble has more pride than the person who doesn’t. A truly humble person doesn’t think of themselves at all. It’s a fight we deal with everyday. Or at least you people. I’m the humblest man in the world. 🙂

    • I don’t know man, I may be more humbler (wait, is that a word?) than you. Seriously though, you’re right in that all people deal with some form of pride. Either thinking too much of themselves or too little. It all comes down to too much focus on self. Humility takes the focus off self and puts it all on God.

  6. If I may be permitted a cliche, Tony, you’ve hit the nail on the head. (And you’ve managed to hit me, too.) I have been wrestling with this. I do get a lot of enjoyment from serving others, but I’m certainly not in a humble state of mind every time.

    Servanthood is something that can be taught and learned. Like you’ve implied, it’s an action that can be repeated regardless of what one is thinking.

    Can a person learn humility? I think they can learn where to find it, especially in the examples of truly humble people. It’s a direct byproduct of worship. You have accurately described it as a “position.” The best place to learn humility is “at the feet of Jesus.” We’d do well to follow the example of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    Great post! Soli Deo Gloria.

    Jim H.
    Jim Hamlett recently posted..Top Ten Reasons To Be A Pilot


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