This little book on humility by Charles Joseph Mahaney was published in 2005 and is less than 200 pages long making it a very manageable read. It made it onto my 2019 book list when I asked my husband to recommend a few of our top shelf books for my list. (The top shelf of our home library contains the majority of our non-fiction spiritual or theological works organized alphabetically by authors' last names—I have a very long way to go to get through our top shelf books.) He ultimately pulled three books he thought I should prioritize, and I ended up putting them all on my list. Humility: True Greatness is the first one I've tackled this year.
Mahaney divides this book into three parts and gives the following explanation for his structuring of the book in the introduction:
"In the first part we'll learn that, no matter our age or vocation, humility is our greatest friend and pride our greatest enemy. In part two we'll discover that genuine humility requires a radical redefinition of success. We'll learn from Jesus Christ as He teaches His disciples the nature of true greatness, and why this greatness is attainable only through His death on the cross for sinners like you and me. Finally, in part three we'll get very practical. We'll examine how to cultivate humility and weaken pride each and every day."
Humility is certainly a difficult topic to write on. By choosing to do so, you're bound to open yourself up to the criticism that it must take an awfully proud—and therefore unqualified—person to claim to be an authority on the subject of humility, and the author very clearly spelled out his concern about this in the opening pages of the book. I actually found this to be a little off-putting and found myself being hypercritical as I began this book and in reading the first two parts especially. I believe it's important to think critically when reading anything, particularly theological topics I'm seeking to apply in my personal life, but it was humbling for me as a reader to have to put the book down and ask God to forgive my prideful, critical attitude toward Mahaney and to show me what He would have me learn from this book. (Whether this makes the application value of a book on humility vs. pride phenomenal or abysmal would be a great subject of debate.)
While I do think Mahaney inserted himself more than necessary into this book, he handled the topic thoroughly and Biblically and I found this book to be a helpful exhortation overall. The real value of the book, in my opinion, is found in the third section where he delivers practical ways to cultivate humility in our daily lives. He explains each method comprehensively throughout this section and then includes a list at the end of the books containing the practices he just finished detailing—the kind of list you could tape on your bathroom mirror or copy down in your journal to help you implement his suggestions. This list alone was worth the book.
The only thing I would have added is a similar list of all the books Mahaney referenced and recommended throughout his own book. It certainly wouldn't be difficult to go back through and make that list yourself, but it definitely would have paired nicely with his list of suggestions to cultivate humility.
All in all, I would recommend reading Humility. I know I personally have to battle pride in my own life, and I think it's a sin every human struggles with to some degree. Reading this book was helpful to me in my ongoing quest to put the sin of pride to death in my own life, and I hope it helps you too if you decide to read it.
What's your best tactic to kill pride and cultivate humility?