Humility Leads to Wisdom

Yael Eckstein  |  March 20, 2023

Fellowship volunteer hugging elderly woman

As in water a face reflects the face,
    So the heart of a person reflects the person. —
Proverbs 27:19

In Judaism, wisdom is something that should be sought, cultivated and taught — no matter what age we are. Enjoy this collection of inspirational thoughts and insights about this godly pursuit.

There was once a Jewish sage who was asked how he became the greatest leader of his generation. The questioner most likely expected an answer mentioning important mentors or advice about disciplined study habits. Instead, the sage’s answer surprised the questioner. “I never met a person who wasn’t somehow better than me.”

In the Chapters of the Fathers, an ancient book of wisdom for life from the Jewish sages of 2000 years ago, the question is asked, “Who is a wise person?” The answer: “One who learns from every person.” The sage who had become a great leader of his generation embodied this lesson. He saw in every person he met someone he could learn from.

Humility allows us to draw closer to people and to learn from them. Arrogance is just the opposite. If we think too much of ourselves, we put up a barrier between us and others. We stop listening, and therefore we stop learning.

Humility Leads to Wisdom

In Proverbs we read, “As in water a face reflects the face, So the heart of a person reflects the person.”

The Jewish sages help us understand the verse in this way: When a person stands next to a body of water, the reflection of his image is enlarged. When he moves away from the water, his image shrinks. When a person comes cheek-to-cheek with the water, both the person and his image are identical.

What’s true of water, is true of our relationships with other people. What “face” we bring to the relationship will determine what “face” is reflected back at us.

If one person enlarges himself and speaks from a place of arrogance, the other person will sense this and do the same. If, however, he humbles himself, the friend will do the same. When they are both as humble as possible, they become equal.

When we are humble, we listen. And when we listen, we learn. Being humble invites other people to share themselves with us, giving us a chance to learn and grow. Humility leads to wisdom.

But if I think I have nothing to learn from the person before me, I’m the one who loses out. The irony is that people who care more about impressing everyone with their brilliance actually deprive themselves of wisdom.

The more humble we are, the wiser we become!

Your Turn:

Try spending one day seeking to learn a lesson from every person we meet. Let’s be more intentional about how we learn from every person.