In which are Bernard of Clairvaux’s thousand-year-old steps to humility

by Craig on December 13, 2011



…humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

If I don’t accept the Savior with humility…
I haven’t accepted him at all.

To give up some control…
and believe, really believe…
that God is active.

To know the world is broken is one thing…
to feel the brokenness is another…
And beyond feeling…understanding…and doing.

And know, though I have very little…
Jesus. Is. Enough.

And do the next. right. best. thing.

And let go of hurt…
because hurt is just anger disguised.

Eleanor Roosevelt said once…

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

It’s an impossibility for the world to revolve at all…
if it only revolves around me…
multiplied by billions of me’s.


Stop looking around and instead look up.
Stop seeing me at the center…and Him there instead.

Bernard of Clairvaux shows the way to humility…
by revealing the way of pride.
One step leads to the next…
and the next to the next…
and they descend into darkness…
and in the end…


He writes that the end of the steps is a pride that prevents grace.

And the first step seems so innocent. They all will seem so.

What’s wrong with what he calls “curiosity”?

I can’t live with my head in the sand…
I’m created to create, to explore.

I have to be curious to find the gospel.

I can’t see a need if I’m not observing.

But Bernard writes of a different “observing”…

“That curiosity which is manifested by that looking around…like Satan…like Eve.”

It’s looking because I don’t want what I have…
I want what you have.

Satan looked at all Adam and Eve possessed…
and it seemed he had nothing.

God’s children wanted for nothing…
then with a little coaxing…
The Enemy’s nothing suddenly seemed everything…
and so, he successfully offered up nothing in exchange for it all.

What Bernard writes about is not asking “why”…

As he puts it, it’s asking…

“Why not”

“Why can’t I?”

“Why won’t you?”

Before I began looking at Bernard’s steps of humility, I was first humiliated…and I thought,

“Why won’t you let me be myself without judging before looking deeper?”

“Why can you say what I say and not be judged, but if I say it…”

And because of what Bernard calls “curiosity”…
I look out and not up…
and I want…
not the everything I have…
but the nothing I don’t.

It’s a little step…
innocent on the surface…
and it changes, piece by piece, my heart…

and it makes me less like our Lord…

and so begins the slide.

There is more to this…

Bernard’s second step…

please come back.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon December 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thank you for writing what we ALL feel!


Craig December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Shannon, thank you – have not been feeling very much like the “ALL” lately. Been feeling outside, been feeling other, been feeling not part of – so thank you for this – thank you. God bless you my friend.


victoria December 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

This is what I’m posting on FB today.
“God’s children wanted for nothing…
then with a little coaxing…
The Enemy’s nothing suddenly seemed everything…
and so, he successfully offered up nothing in exchange for it all.”


Craig December 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Victoria, and those words look nothing at all like they did at the start – it’s funny, you have the words, you play around with them, move this here, move that there, something pops out, a few things go away, and sometimes you end up with something good. I don’t say that with pride – but I do say it with a smile – sometimes I like the way the words come out. Thank you for linking them too. God bless you Victoria.


Martha Orlando December 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

“It’s looking because I don’t want what I have.”
This so describes where I have been in the distant past. The very distant, where I did not know God, nor desired to know Him. I looked and looked. I really did! Because, I knew I was missing something, but, what? Where was the answer?
I could never fill that hole within me reserved only for Him. Not by myself. Not without His help.
I didn’t want what I had because these were all false, all led to destruction.
I needed something more . . .
I needed Him.
I accepted Him.
I love Him.
I thank Him.
May His blessings shower you today, Craig!


Craig December 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

Martha, I’m still gaining my balance from – well you know. So I’m sorry for replying so late. You may not know, because you read this blog more than the other one, that my first response to anything that severe is always to isolate. Sadly, I’ve done a lot of that after what happened. The good news is I didn’t isolate from God.

And the thing about humility, and what I wrote…Bernard was writing to Christians, he was writing to monks in the monastery. They were looking for something different, and I guess we both know his own experience must have flavored his writing, so I imagine he was reflecting back to a time that HE looked around for other, better options. Obviously the steps to pride are well-traveled by non-Christians – that’s understandable – but I guess we shouldn’t step down so often, and quickly, and casually. Anyway thank you Martha, thank you as always, and God bless you.


Debbie December 14, 2011 at 1:23 am

Thank you for taking us on this journey of humility. I am liking it already and always needing it. And it was good to see some Craig tweets . . .I was missing you there. :)
God bless you as we take this one step and a time.


Craig December 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

sent you an e-mail Debbie – obviously read it by now – anyway, God bless you!


Kelly December 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

God is doing something good in you. He’s at work, it’s evident. Thanks for giving us a peek at His brushstrokes. He is an artist- and you, me, we… His masterpieces. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it!


Craig December 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

Kelly, as long as we take our stuff to God, he always works through it – if we yield to him. I’m yielding, I got a lot of good human advice, and some good “God” advice. No Christian should waste their pain – I haven’t, and will not waste this. I was going to write the series on Bernard and the steps to humility because I wanted to study humility for Christmas. This has just made the study a little different. Thank you Kelly, thank you very much, God bless you and all the Hallahans. and I’m sorry it’s taken this long to get back to you – this is been a difficult week – I tend to isolate a little when it’s difficult. Sorry.


Kris December 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Look at God working. Just look at how magnificently He moves and sways and pulls and stretches us… the fires of the refiner burn white-hot, but oh how the pruduct shines as he turns it in the light to inspect, it; how beautiful it is as he lets it cool and rest….

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)


Craig December 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

He’s good That Way, Krissie, I don’t like the sway, and pull, and stretch – but I’m okay as long as HE’s in it. I hate the wastelands – can somebody inform God that I think I can learn through some easy circumstances too. ツ God bless you my friend.


A. December 16, 2011 at 12:29 am

Craig, this is very, very good. I just received a sly bunny attack in a Christmas card, preceded by a bunny email a few weeks ago…same bunny. Know that at least one person out here is buckling up for yet another learning curve. Just when I think I am doing ok…another curve ball comes winging in from wherever…and I realize I just am not yet a graduate of this course in bunny relations. Bunny 101…that is what I am going to call what you are writing here…and how I need it!


Craig December 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

Bunny 101 is the name of the beginner course – I think your course is a little more advanced. God bless you as you go through it. Thank you A.


Bill Booth January 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

we have illustrated the principles of the 12 steps of humility in a short powerful new video!
see our 1500 years of the 12 steps webpage… by Bill, Oblate OSB for the recovery world


Craig January 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

thank you Bill – I visited – and enjoyed – God bless.


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