True modesty avoids everything that is criminal; false modesty everything that is unfashionable. Joseph Addison
The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month. Feodor Dostoyevsky
Yet how proud we are, in daring to look down upon ourselves! Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Is being ‘self-effacing’ a desirable quality or is it undesirable? Many would say that in order to get ahead, advance one’s self, and to “win friends and influence people”; it is necessary to be in the forefront and to purposely draw attention to ourselves by promoting “numero uno”.
There is undoubtedly some truth in this. However, in the long run, being self-effacing is a more admirable quality. Conceit, braggadocio, “singing one’s own praises”, are usually seen for what they are. We will tend to get away from someone who wants attention and needs to be in the limelight. Once we began to truly know someone, these are not qualities that we consider most desirable and respectable. At the other extreme, we are not comfortable with those that are lethargic, too passive (milk-toast), or have serious self-esteem issues.
Self-effacing portrays the idea that someone is comfortable enough with themselves that they can publicly make light (fun) of themselves. They can admit their weaknesses and find humor in doing so. They can laugh at themselves. Some comedians do very well by using self-effacing themes in their presentations. Those who are self-effacing seem more down to earth and easier to relate to. There is something appealing and healthy about being able to admit to one’s shortcomings and weaknesses in public.
Most of us are largely ‘self-aware’ of our weaknesses and short-comings. We find comfort in others who appear to be in the same boat as we are in. There is “safety in numbers”. In the quest to become the best that we can become, as we grow and develop, and as we gain wisdom and insight, we understand the undesirability of blowing our own horn. The traits of modesty and humility tend to become more dominant in our lives. Those who exhibit the opposite of these traits are not really comfortable with who they are. They have some problems with who they are and their inner nature. They are trying to cover up their vulnerabilities and use various defense mechanisms to protect their feelings of inadequacy. They are too afraid to publicly reveal their true selves.
Self-effacement carries with it the concept of being more mature, balanced, and comfortable from within. It is the ability to be honest and open about our blemishes, shortcomings, warts and blemishes, frailties, and even embarrassing quirks and idiosyncrasies while being comfortable and self-accepting of who we truly are.
Challenge: Would you describe yourself as being “self-effacing’? This means that you are not easily offended, not “thin-skinned” and do not have to be the center of attention. If you can tell a joke on yourself, laugh at your own shortcomings as others laugh with you; you are getting there. You can be self-effacing, modest, and humble. If you cannot do these things, you may be too sensitive and insecure in who and where you are in life.
Wisdom: Self-criticism expands the opportunities for discourse and eliminates the need for an adversary. Mason Cooley
Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
As we walk closer and closer with the Lord, we grow in confidence and through our faith can overcome our fears and doubts. God increasingly gives us the strength, knowledge and wisdom to live life victoriously. It becomes increasingly obvious that the ways of the world are not his ways. We increasingly need to see the truth of this in our lives. When we can see ourselves as we really are, we will be humbled. God then is able to truly help us.
Prayer: Help me to seek to become the person You designed me to be, not what the world wants me to be.