Honor is the difference between humility and humiliation. Humility is what we choose for ourselves when we serve, trust, obey and prefer others. Humiliation is what another person would put upon us. Humility leads to a building up of character and encourages spiritual growth and maturity. Humiliation leads to a tearing down of character and thwarts spiritual growth and maturity. In the simplest of terms, humility is constructive while humiliation is destructive.
“Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Proverbs 29:23
Humility is based in grace while humiliation is based in shame. Humility is a state of mind that says I am not better than others, my opinions do not matter more than other’s, I am not above serving another person. Humiliation says that we are less than others, our opinion does not count and we must serve to matter. Humility says I have something to say but, I will temper it with kindness and love. Humiliation says I have no voice, no right to speak up,
“You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud.” Psalms 18:27
Humility is a virtue, a trait to be admired and a goal worth reaching for. Humiliation is a flaw, a trait to be avoided and never worth pursuing. One leads to opportunities and possibilities. The other leads to dead ends and ditches.
“You think you’re better than I am, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.” Job 19:5
Now, that we’ve considered the differences in these words that appear very similar at first glance, let’s take them off the shelf and examine them more closely. Let’s consider them as parents. If you aren’t a parent, consider them as a spouse or a friend, consider them as a teacher or a student, consider them as a whatever you are to another person. Let’s consider them as they apply to the relationships in your life.
At this point we could go one of two directions. We could go down the path of what has been done to you in the past, but that would mean turning around and going backwards. Sometimes, we need to do that, but, this time, today, let’s move forward and instead of focusing on what has been done, let’s focus on what will be. Almost without exception, every person reading this (and those who aren’t) have within their sphere of influence people who they can practice humility or humiliation with.
As parents, our opportunity to build up or tear down is obvious. No matter how much they may protest or resent the fact at times, our opinions matter to our children. Our opinions of them will form how they see themselves and will be cemented into their souls. Even when they manage years later to undo the damage of humiliation, the scars and tender places will remain.
So, how can we teach humility without humiliation? How can we encourage rightful remorse without heaping on despair and despondency. The last thing we want to do is make our kids feel that all hope is lost. As a Christian parent, I am all about accountability, repentance and consequences. As a Christian parent I am all about mercy and grace and forgiveness.
Here are some steps I try to follow to achieve humility and avoid humiliation.
1) Hear my children out, let them have a voice even when the ultimate decision is my choice.
2) Consider carefully the consequences. Am I setting a precedent? Am I out to prove a point of my own?
3) Offer hope, a way of retribution, a path that leads to restoration. A way to make things right.
4) Are my words and actions building up or tearing down my child? Constructive or destructive?
5) Be extremely cautious when delivering ultimatums. Ultimatums can lead to points of no return.
If you are thinking, it is too late, the damage has already been done, practice some humility and ask for forgiveness, admit your mistake. Humility will give you the courage to try again in spite of what you know about yourself. Humiliation will have you discouraged and hanging your head in shame. The difference is huge. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12