Talking About Humility

I noticed that author Jane Knuth (Thrift Store Saints) asked a question about humility yesterday on the People for Others blog. In particular, she mentions the following quote from St. Vincent de Paul and then asks readers to share their understanding of the quote.

The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.

Here’s my take on it.

Humility is basically coming to accept the fact that God is God and we are not. It is an acceptance of our own limitations and the acknowledgment that all we have comes from God as a gift. The devil is not capable of this disposition because he seeks equality with God. Humility shifts attention away from ourselves and onto others and God. The devil seeks to draw attention to himself.

In terms of applying this wisdom to our lives, practicing humility is like creating a force-field around ourselves that the devil cannot penetrate since humility seeks to draw attention to God’s greatness and not our own. When our lives humbly deflect attention and instead reflect God’s greatness, the devil is blinded by that reflection.

Finally, I can never resist making a comparison to sports. If I do not know how to employ a certain move on the field, the court, or the ice, I will personally be unable to effectively defend against such a move when my competitor employs it. It’s like a boxer being unable to defend a punch that he never sees coming because he himself does not know how to disguise his punches. Practicing humility is like throwing a punch that the devil cannot see coming because he doesn’t know how to throw that particular punch himself.

I’m keenly interested in this discussion about humility because I devote an entire chapter to the topic in the first chapter of my new book, 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness which is now available. I humbly invite you to take a look.

Thanks, Jane, for initiating this conversation about a much-needed virtue in our times.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

2 Comments on Talking About Humility

  1. In class I ask the kids “can a humble person sin,” followed by “can a perfectly humble person sin.” That starts a discussion of the relation of pride and sin, and ends with Jesus’ example of perfect humility & obedience.

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