07 July 2010

From the Good Book I Am Reading

"Girls who have the gift of humility are better placed to have deeper, longer-lasting friendships. With humility, your daughter is free to enjoy people for who they are; she'll have no haughty desire to cut people out of her life. This is extremely important because your daughter is a social creature. She needs other people. She needs adults to talk to, girlfriends to hang out with, and young men in her life to learn about relationships. No one can be happy in isolation. We are not made for isolation.

"Humility is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Humility keeps each party in a relationship respectful, honest, and relaxed. If your daughter lives with humility, she will discover who she is and what significance her life holds. She will experience joy and contentment in her life. Your daughter was created to live in an intricate web of relationships. Humility keeps her inside that web. Self-centeredness and pride pluck her out of it" (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, Meg Meeker, pp. 82-83).

"Humility is seeing ourselves honestly. It keeps us in the real world. Because we want our daughters to excel at everything they do, to be prettier, smarter, better than everbyody else, we can confuse our priorities -- and theirs.

"Our daughters don't need excessive praise to feel good about themselves. Deep inside, your daughter knows she's good at some things and not very good at other things. She often views her talents more realisitically than her parents do, and the harder her parents push the praise button, the more she questions herself: Is this the reason my parents love me so much? Am I worth more to my dad if I play the violin better?

"Another problem is self-centeredness. When family activities revolve around what we believe our kids 'need' or 'want' in order to feel better about themselves, we drive them to become self-centered. Many times girls gain a sense of superiority over their peers when they excel at something. And when this happens, they can become isolated from friends, peers, and family. Competitiveness creeps in. Their sense of superiority makes their world small and self-contained. They find no joy in what's around them. They focus on success, not on friends. . . .

"Don't let this happen to your daughter. Keep her world larger than herself and her talents. Gently guide her to recognize her strengths and limitations. Let her fail. Let her know that you still love her when she fails. Let her know that she's valuable not only for what she does, but for who she is. Here is your chance to teach her one of life's greatest lessons: people are valuable because they're human, not because of what they do. . . .

"Can a woman be both gorgeous and humble? Can your daughter be brilliant, in passionate pursuit of a successful career, but still appreciate that she alone is not wholly responsible for her success? Absolutely. Humility will make your daughter's accomplishments shine all the more, and she will be more emotionally grounded, more satisfied, and happier than if she had tried to imitate Paris Hilton's life" (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Meeker, pp. 79-81).

"Teaching your daughter humility is vital but tricky. You can't simply tell her that she's the same as her brother, the homeless woman on the street, and everyone else. Your daughter needs to feel unique and important in your eyes.

"Teaching humility will demand more of you as a father than that. Humility doesn't make sense unless it is modeled. If you want your daughter to love reading, you must read. If you want her to be athletic, go for a run. The same is true with humility. If you live it, she will get it. Remember, she is a dry sponge following you around, waiting to see what you think, feel, and do.

"Humility can be hard for many men to embrace. But not to embrace it is a dangerous game of self-deception. You and I know men who lack humility. Their lives become futile chases for things that don't matter, and neglectful of things that do.

"I have known many successful men who embody extraordinary humility. They are successful professionally, intellectually, and emotionally because they understand that life is bigger than they are. Their work and their being fit into a much larger picture. Their successes not only benefit themselves -- they also help those around them. A father's humility is a gift to his daughter" (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, pp. 77-78).


TruthQuestioner said...

Thanks, Pastor!

Eleanor said...

Hi Pastor,
Not having read the book, I'm not sure if I can have an educated opinion. I find the author's comments intriguing but I'm not sure where she's heading.
First, how is she defining humility? If by "humility" she means only a realistic assessment of talents, that is a good thing. It's virtue.
Problem is that humility is almost always misunderstood as the default mental position, "everyone else is better than I am." Sometimes this is true, but sometimes, the girl really is the best. She needs to learn to accept praise too when it's legitimate. Denigrating what is in fact good and praise worthy shows a lack of gratitude for the gifts God gave you.
An unrealistically low assessment of one's talents might allow the young lady to have friends, but it can be dangerous. For one thing, abusive men will prey on it and if the daughter has moved away from her parents for school they may not be there to catch the problem.
Additionally, I'm rather skeptical that maintaining a "humble" attitude while pursuing excellence, will yield all that many friends. High school girls are evil (if they are anything like the girls I went to school with). They won't forgive you for "showing them up" which can happen simply if your daughter works hard. Your daughter may be forced to choose: either she studies responsibly and gets the highest grade on the test and runs the risk of being resented, or she does "well enough". Girls who don't care too much about school can be popular, but that brings other problems with it.
Taking the competitive edge out of being the best is certainly important, but it probably won't be enough to be popular with high school girls. In fact, the girls I knew who were the happiest, least likely to be doing drugs, sleeping with boys, or engaged in other types of bad behavior were very competitive in their areas of talent. They had a few friends, and frequently they competed rigorously with them for the highest spots. They won some and lost some and their friendship survived.
Girls need to be taught to lead lives of virtue and virtue is not measured by numbers of friends any more than it is measured by awards.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for your comments, Eleanor. I tried to provide enough context to give the author's gist, but let me clarify some of what she intends.

She doesn't have in mind any kind of false modesty, nor a self-depricating attitude, but the genuine virtue of humility, which she defines as an honest appraisal of oneself, of both strengths and weaknesses; a respect for other human beings as valuable and important; and a recognition that there are larger truths and greater priorities than oneself.

The goal is not friendship for its own sake, nor a multiplicity of friends, but the development of genuine healthy relationships.

Overall, I have found Dr. Meeker's book to be quite good and helpful. She writes from within her vocation as a medical doctor, as a Roman Catholic Christian. In doing so, she affirms many of the same conclusions that I have reached by way of experience, observation, and theological reflection. It's a relatively easy read, and one that I would recommend to any father.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

When you mentioned the book in your presentation at the CCA, I opened my laptop and ordered it from Amazon with "One-click" and closed my laptop before you finished with your comment about it. I have been reading the book and it is a real eye-opener and an extreme encouragement. The world makes fathers like us feel like we're being too overbearing and controlling.

Thank you for this book recommendation! I'll probably get Dr. Meeker's book on boys next!!!

Rob Olson said...

Thanks for the post. It gave me something to think about regarding humility.

I would also recommend the chapter entitled "The Great Sin" in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

Don Matzat's book Christ Esteem, if it's still in print, is also helpful.

Both books might be in contrast to this author's view of humility, for they tend to encourage Christians to forget themselves. Self-forgetfulness seems, in their minds, humility.

I find it significant that in Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, the devil character puts a mirror into the hand of the un-fallen Eve of that wet planet. That seems consistent with what he wrote in Mere Christianity.