Tag Archives: humble

“Thank You For The Honor, I Am Humbled”…Check Your Dictionary

Today we are beginning the pet peeve section of my blog.  Well, not really, but today’s topic is certainly one of my pet peeves!  I believe that sometime in the last fifteen years the actual meaning of the word humble has been swallowed up and it has moved over into the false-modesty category.  When you are elected to office, given a special award, or graduate from something you are being honoured.  It is not possible for it to be humbling!



Don’t believe that people really say this?  On election night in 2011, “What a great night,” Canadian Prime Minister Harper exclaimed as he addressed cheering supporters in Calgary. “And friends, I have to say it: A strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government.  We are grateful, deeply honoured — in fact, humbled — by the decisive endorsement of so many Canadians. We shall be faithful to the trust that you have reposed in us,” (canada.com)

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia’s acceptance speech following his election as new WCC general secretary 28 August 2003 included the following, “I want to say that for me, this is a very humbling affair. I am deeply humbled by this great honour of being elected the general secretary of the World Council of Churches.”



thefreedictionary.com posts the following definitions

hum·blehttp://img.tfd.com/m/sound.swf (hmbl)

adj. hum·bler, hum·blest

1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.

tr.v. hum·bled, hum·bling, hum·bles

1. To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate.
2. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit.
3. To give a lower condition or station to; abase. See Synonyms at degrade.

 I think the reason some people are using the word humble in their acceptance speeches is that they are made to feel “modest in spirit” by the win or honour.  What they may be feeling is embarrassment or unworthiness which may sound the same, but if they really felt that way would they not then decline the honour?  For many it is a way to insert false-modesty into their speech.  Certainly nobody who spends millions of dollars and every waking minute of months of their time campaigning to win an election should feel that they deserve the job or we are in real trouble!


Let’s look at some examples of humbleness.  The word humble can be found 25 times in the NRSV translation of the Bible.  Moses tells Pharaoh (definitely not an humble person) to humble himself and let the Israelites go and then later speaking to those very people whom God saved tells them that they wandered in the desert for fourty years in order to humble them.  (Exo 10:3, Deu 8:2, 16)   We are frequently called upon to humble ourselves before God and over and over again it is noted that God hears the humble and does not forget the humble.  In Proverbs 6:9 it says, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”  Later, in the New Testament when it says that the humble will be lifted up it doesn’t mean that if you act humble you will get earthly attention and wealth, but to be truly lifted up into the presence of God.


If none of those examples give a clear picture of true humility, look at Jesus.  God humbled himself to the point of being born as a helpless infant in a lambing shed along with the animals.  He lived a simple life with his parents and an even simpler life as he traveled the countryside during his ministry.  There were no fancy campaign busses (or white steeds), slogans or $100-a-plate fundraising dinners.  He didn’t wear fancy clothing like the members of the Sanhedrin, and on the night of the Last Supper he knelt down and washed his disciples feet like a servant, and refused to let his followers fight to save him from arrest.  In the next several days he allowed himself to be whipped and beaten, hung on a cross with common criminals, and to be defeated by death.  This is humbled.


As we go to bed tonight, let’s pray that the Holy Spirit may enable us to be truly humble in our lives, that we might be lifted up by God.


The 25 uses of the word humble come from; Exo 10:3,Deu 8:2,Deu 8:16,Jdg 19:24,2 Ch 7:14,2,Ch 34:27,Job 22:29,Psa 9:12, Psa 10:12,Psa 10: 17,Psa 34:2,Psa 69:32,Pro 6:3,Pro 16″19,Pro 29:23,Isa 57:15,Jer 13:18,Mat 18:4,Mat 23:12,2 Co 12:21,Jas 4:6,Jas 4:10,1 Pe 5″5,1 Pe 5:6

My 30 Minutes at the Bottom of the Food Chain

I mowed half the back yard one day when I got home from work.  The reason I didn’t finish?  Was I too tired to continue? Did I need to get chores done inside?  Was I leaving it for my children to do? Did the charge run out on the mower?  No, none of those reasons applies to this situation.  After thirty minutes of work I was tired of being a human popsicle for the recently hatched hordes of black flies which have invaded my yard!


For those purists, entomologists, biologists etc. out there let me just say that I am a trained musician and an humanities teacher and not a scientist.  For all I know the black flies who were snacking on me so merrily may be days old, they aren’t really at the bottom of the food chain etc.   All I know is that the day before when I mowed the front yard there weren’t any flies and today I was having trouble avoiding inhaling the stupid things as they swarmed around me and my lawn mower.


I understand that the black flies need to eat in order to survive to reproduce.  I understand that there are spiders, bats, and birds who need the flies fattened up to make good meals for them.  I understand how the food cycle works, but I am used to being at the top of the chain!  I am supposed to be the eater, not the eaten!  After-all, weren’t Adam and Eve given, ” dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth… every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”(Genesis 1:28-29)?


We humans are generally quite proud of all we have accomplished.  We have developed ways to produce more food on a small piece of land than it was ever intended to yield.  We have found ways of preserving our food so that we may have things to eat when they are not even in season (I’ll be freezing bags of fiddleheads any day now for use next winter).  Many of us could go through our whole lives without really facing the fact that those nice tidy cuts of meat we buy on the styrofoam trays at the grocery store were once live animals who bled when they died. 


Our one remaining real issue in the developed world?  Biting insects!  Look at the panic caused by an outbreak of bedbugs in North America, and look at all ingenuity we have put into ridding ourselves of mosquitoes and black flies.  There are citronella candles and sprays, bug sprays of all sorts, mesh suits which are so fine that the biting insects can not get through.  We have propane based contraptions that claim to clear 1/2 acre areas of flies.  We have pesticides which are sprayed over vast areas in some places.


Since we have this dominion, and the technology etc. and cannibalism is such a taboo in almost every human society, we have little to fear from the food chain.  I think we need to be thankful for reminders of how the prey animals feel. It is humbling, and heaven knows most of us need practice being humble!