Characteristics of Genuine Humility

Characteristics of Genuine Humility

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.
–Matthew 20:26

How do you know what humility looks like? Let’s look at some characteristics of genuine humility.

First, humility is willing to credit others for our successes. A truly humble person doesn’t have problems acknowledging that good things have come into his life from other people, and he doesn’t have problems acknowledging the contributions others have made. I’ll never forget the first time I went into the Oval Office. It was when Ronald Reagan was president. But it was different back then, because Amy and I went at midnight one night with a small group that was taking a tour. Reagan wasn’t in the Oval Office; he was upstairs asleep. But I remember a little plaque that was on his desk. I wrote it down after I got back to the hotel because it made such an impression on me. The plaque said, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” A humble spirit means being willing to credit others for our successes.

Second, humility generates genuine interest in other people. A truly humble person sees people as opportunities to meet needs rather than opportunities to be used. You know, I think about Jesus in Matthew 20:28 when He gave His purpose statement, His reason for coming to earth. He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Many of us have read that so many times I think we’ve lost the majesty of that verse. I mean, it is an unbelievable thought when you think that Jesus Christ, co-equal with God the Father, the one who created everything we see according to Colossians 1, that He was willing to leave heaven, give up the perks and privileges of being co-equal with God the Father. He came to earth for one reason, not to meet His need but to meet your greatest need, my greatest need, the need for salvation. That is unbelievable to think He was willing to do that.

That is why Jesus said in Matthew 20:26 if we are really His followers, then we are going to have that same attitude: “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.” Now, that is hard to take in today’s culture. We have books like “Looking Out for Number One” or “Winning through Intimidation.” That’s the spirit of our age–seeing people as opportunities to use to help you get to where you want to go. But no. Jesus said a true disciple is one who views other people as opportunities to demonstrate service. That’s what genuine humility does. It demonstrates an interest in other people.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Purpose over Aimlessness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.