This week’s challenge might have seemed innocuous at first, but the reaction to it has proved that humility is a key struggle for many, many people. In this latest guest blog, Tearfund’s Matt Currey reflects on how humbling ourselves to the point that we’re prepared to fail, can be the path to personal and spiritual growth.
I am a Father of 2 great children and I say that with a sense of pride and joy rather than with any great sense of humility!
One of the many joys and ‘landmark’ moments of being a parent is when your child is learning to walk and makes the transition and takes those first few steps! It’s an amazing and profound moment. Having celebrated and had that ‘wow’ moment I remember reflecting on the struggle and the process beind this great feat. There were certainly many attempts and many failures before success, but they did not give up despite the setbacks. They got up and tried again. A profound lesson in persistence, keeping going and therefore I guess humility.
I’m aware as an adult of how much harder it can be to try things, especially after a number of failed attempts, and of how this ‘failure’ can knock confidence and character. When does this attitude in us change? Why does it change? Why can’t we be more prepared to give something a go and be ready to fail more?
Last year I took the challenge of doing 9 themed spiritual ‘journeys’, each lasting for 40 days and one of those themes (foolishly for me) was on humility. I was, just like my children as they learned to walk, setting myself up to fail, and fail in an epic way! But, although I stumbled, tripped, fell and made a mess of things, like my kids, I am glad that I persisted, because although I didn’t make much progress, I did at least make some! (At least I think so, he says’s humbly!)
The only progress I made was realising that there was nothing in my doing and in my actions that was going to increase or grow my humility.
I learnt pretty quickly that in trying to be more humble I was set to fail, fall and stumble, but that was, is and should be ok. We have to be allowed the grace and the opportunity to explore, make mistakes and not be put off.
I realised during this journey that I still wanted to be recognised for myself and for my work; to see my twitter followers increase; to be thanked for some of the good things I do. If I had ‘switched off’ that desire I reckon I would have been less human and basically full of false humility. However I was thankful that I could choose to be more anonymous if I wanted and also to give some things a try and learn some things.
We need to be more confident in being honest, in being vulnerable and being given the space to fail. Its hard, Its not very natural or progressive. I guess its pretty humbling!
***I am thankful for Stephen Cherry’s amazing book, my daughter and many patient friends, family and colleagues who have taught me so much about humility.***
Matt Currey works for Tearfund and blogs as part of the Breathe community. He is married with two children, and loves curry, live music and good coffee.