19 Rules for the Grace of Humility

In The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, Jeremy Taylor offered 19 rules for how to foster humility. I’ve condensed them down to blog form (since they didn’t have blogs in the 17th century) and italicized my favorites for your easy consumption.

Rules for Humility

Humility does not consist in criticizing yourself, or wearing ragged clothes, or walking around submissively wherever you go. Humility consists in a realistic opinion of yourself, namely that you are an unworthy person.

When you hold this opinion of yourself, be content that others think the same of you.

Nurture a love to do good things in secret.

Never be ashamed of your birth, of your parents, your occupation, or your present employment.

Never say anything, directly or indirectly that will provoke praise or elicit complaints from others.

When you do receive praise for something you have done, take it indifferently and return it to God.

Make a good name for yourself by being a person of virtue and humility.

Do not take pride in any praise given to you.

Do not ask others your faults with the intent or purpose being to have others tell you of your good qualities.

When you are slighted by someone, or feel undervalued, do not harbor any secret anger, supposing that you actually deserved praise.

Do not entertain any of the devil’s whispers of pride.

Take an active part in the praising of others.

Be content when you see or hear that others are doing well in their jobs and with their income, even when you are not.

Never compare yourself with others unless it be to advance your impression of them and lower your impression of yourself.

Do not constantly try to excuse all your mistakes.

Give God thanks for every weakness, fault, and imperfection you have.

Do not expose others’ weaknesses in order to make them feel less able than you.

Remember that what is most important to God is that we submit ourselves and all that we have to him.

What do you think of Taylor’s rules? Which do you find the most helpful?

  • Stephen Hebert

    Of all of Taylor’s rules, this is the one that causes me the most trouble:
    “Never say anything, directly or indirectly that will provoke praise or elicit complaints from others.”

    I’m guilty of doing both: saying things to provoke praise as well as elicit complaints.

    My most recent struggle in this regard is with the act of blogging and, more generally, writing. Why write? Aren’t I simply looking for praise or to the stir pot and create complaints amongst some faction or other?

  • I struggled with a few months before even starting this blog for that very reason.

    I’ve thought about changing it from to something more anonymous, but people will still know who did it, so that isn’t really a solution.

    I’ve resolved not to be a “heretic hunter” and will be really particular about books I review or topics I write on in the future. Ed Stetzer tweeted the other day that Lifeway has a new product and he needs bloggers to be opposed to it for the publicity. I think that really points out what so many blogs are for.

    In the end, I just have to write what I think would be helpful to people. That is one of the reasons I post at least once a week thoughts that are completely unoriginal (like this post). I’m trying to be helpful, not show how smart or creative or interesting I am.l