“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

By Emily Cozzens

There is a covert attack on talent that newbies and aspiring artists will discover as they break into their craft. It’s a parasite. I find it clinging to me when I hear the praise for my developing knack of writing. It disguises itself as humility.

Somehow, we think we’re terrible when we’re told we’re great. In a desperate attempt to keep our chests from puffing with pride, we supress reality.

Compliments are a challenge to accept. We know our mistakes in what we produce, and therefore our product is not up to the standard we perceive to be the standard the world wants. (Honestly, the world doesn’t really know what it wants.) We’re praised anyway, even with the small flaws glaring in our faces. But your fans don’t know where you went wrong. So they compliment you, but you fumble with an acceptance speech and end up with a hybrid mashup somewhere between, “Thank you” and “It was terrible, and I don’t understand how that thought could cross your mind.”

Chances are, though, they complimented you because they truly enjoyed what you presented 95 percent of the time. And the other 5 percent? They were probably asking questions worth asking.

Granted, there are empty compliments thrown around all the time, everywhere. Sometimes they hurt, when we see that somehow, our readers couldn’t find what seemed obvious to us, or didn’t take the time to really scrutinize what we presented.

But empty compliments do not mean that your craft is a waste of time, or terrible. Not at all. After seeing both sides of this equation, I’ve seen where the empty compliments originate. You’re not going to find any sort of compliment coming from a person who wants to tear you down.

There’s always going to be that person in your life that cannot seem to voice the good they see. The cynical, critical, pessimistic soul that always has something to say to you. “You’re doing it wrong.”

And there will always be that person in your life, so sweet and gentle, and scared of breaking your heart with any kind of feedback that’s less than positive.

When presenting your craft, your biggest challenge will be overcoming your own perception of what you’ve produced. You are your worst enemy when it comes to recognizing the merit of your product. This will spell the difference between getting a story published, or even making it out of your closet.

Earlier, I said that our little parasite disguises itself as humility. Of course, this article may not even make it into Kingdom Pen because of my lack of ability to write concisely, and stay on topic.

Ouch.

That parasite bit again. This is what we fight.

Somehow, humility has been taken to mean “A modest or low view of one’s own importance”.

“A low view of one’s own importance.”

This is not humility.

Here’s our problem. What’s the point in writing without knowing you can do something IMPORTANT with your skill? And how can you have the ability to do something important, without being important?

This definition was produced by a simple Google search. This is the answer at our finger tips. But this is the definition as seen by the world. This is the definition applied to our daily lives, by none other than ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, humility is a quality worth striving to achieve. But there’s a difference between humility and beating yourself up. It’s surprising to see how easy it is to tear yourself down.

Humility is acknowledging that you can’t do it by yourself. God didn’t create you and place you on this planet so you could deny each and every purpose he designed you for. At some point, we have to step up and take charge, step up and accept the responsibility and glory that comes with being chosen to fight for Him.

We could all find dozens of things wrong with everything we do. There will always be something. Whether it’s our writing, our social disposition, or learning to drive. And somewhere along the way, you’re going to ace that test. People will applaud you, and clap you on the back. So stand up tall, and smile, and say Thank You!

Your acceptance speech should go something like this:

“Congratulations! You made it! We knew you could do it!”

“Thank you! I couldn’t have done it without God.” (And this is where the big smile comes in.)

You don’t have to tear yourself down in order to keep pride out. Why shouldn’t we be joyful for God choosing us to be on His team? The first step to breaking into your craft is breaking out of the misconception that humility is a “low view of one’s importance.” God made you to be important. That’s why you’re here. That’s why you have your talents. Don’t attack your talents, or yourself, with this sad misconception. Humility relies on God to make you great. It does not rely on you to beat yourself up.