If you have successfully completed the first six steps of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, you are ready to move on to Step 7. In steps three through six, you made the decision to turn your will and your life over to “God as you understood Him,” tackled the task of making a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of yourself, admitted your wrongs, and were “entirely ready” to let God remove your defects. In the 7th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will “Humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.” In order to compete this task successfully, you will need to understand what it means to be truly humble.
Understanding and Learning Humility
Dictionary.com lists several variances on the definition of the word humble. To get a good grasp on the concept of humility, try picturing circumstances in your life (real or imagined) where humility comes into play and determine how those emotions can influence your interaction with God as you understand Him while working through Step 7.
One definition is to be “not proud or arrogant; modest.” This example of humility is a lesson learned early in life. Imagine yourself as a kindergartner who just created the most beautiful picture of a bunny any kindergartner had ever seen. (At least that’s how you felt when your teacher complimented your drawing and held it up in front of the class.) Immediately, you were filled with the natural response of pride.
At that point, you would have transitioned from natural pride to either modest pride or arrogant pride. The choice was yours whether you were conscious of it or not. Modest pride would have filled you with the good feeling of accomplishing something special; arrogant pride would have filled you with that same feeling with the added sense of feeling superior to your kindergarten peers. So, to be truly humble, you would have stopped at the natural pride before allowing it to make you feel superior. Therein lies the difference between arrogance and humility.
Modest Humility Necessary
Modest humility is necessary in accomplishing Alcoholics Anonymous Step 7. In order to benefit from this step, you will need to approach God as you understand Him with an attitude of accomplishing something special with modesty instead of arrogance.
Any sense of arrogance about your shortcomings defeats the purpose of asking God to remove them because to ask Him to help you is to need Him, and to need Him is to be modest in front of Him.
Another definition of the word humble is “having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.” This is another example of one of life’s early lessons. When you were a toddler, your parents, older relatives, babysitters or daycare teachers would likely have impressed upon you with words or actions that your position in relation to them was inferior or subservient. Your job was to listen to and obey those who were older, wiser and more experienced than you. Your position of inferiority or subservience wasn’t a character flaw by any means; it was simply indicative of your place in society.
Understanding and placing yourself in this position of inferiority and subservience is necessary when approaching God as you understand Him while you ask Him to remove your shortcomings. To allow yourself to feel somehow equal to Him would defeat the purpose of asking Him to remove anything from your life. If you understand that you need Him to remove your shortcomings, you understand that He is more powerful and superior than you.
A position of humility without arrogance and a position of inferiority toward God as you understand Him will allow you to experience His power in removing your shortcomings. This humility is a necessary experience in succeeding at Step 7.