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Growing Downward: The Path of Christ-Exalting Humility (Thompson)

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Author Nick Thompson recognizes that pride is our worst enemy. If pride is our chief foe, then humility is our chief friend, even though its company may be painful. But spiritual growth is a descent—we must grow downward. Defining humility as “the downward disposition of a Godward self-perception,” Thompson walks us through the practical implications of this definition, leading us to embrace a God-centered perspective on the self. With winsome illustration and warm pastoral instruction, Growing Downward shows us that the path of humility, though difficult, is the way to true meaning and fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Click here to download the first chapter, a 21-Day Growing Downward reflection guide, quotes from the book and other resources

Table of Contents: 


Introduction: Toward a Definition of Humility

Part One: Existential Humility 

1. Dependent Creatures 

2. Covenantal Creatures 

3. Temporal Creatures

Part Two: Ethical Humility 

4. Fallen Sinners 

5. Delusional Sinners 

6. Hopeless Sinners

Part Three: Evangelical Humility 

7. Represented Believers 

8. Foreloved Believers 

9. Adopted Believers

Part Four: Ecclesiological Humility 

10. Devoted Members 

11. Imperfect Members 

12. Missional Members

Part Five: Eschatological Humility 

13. Grave-bound Mortals 

14. Judgment-bound Mortals 

15. Eternity-bound Mortals


“Christians can become lopsided, leaning towards either how to think, live, or feel better. Thompson’s teaching on humility teaches us to view ourselves more accurately and realistically, affecting every aspect of our lives. His impressive breadth of application makes his teaching concrete rather than abstract. This book establishes the right way of thinking and living in light of who God is and who we are. What more could one want in any book on theology, or on Christian living?” — Ryan M. McGraw, Morton H. Smith Professor of Systematic Theology, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“When I was a child, my mother used to tell a fable about a man who won a medal for humility but had it taken away the moment he wore it. The point was obvious and has been proven by time: we are never as humble as we ought to be, nor even as humble as we wish to be. Yet by God's grace we can be humbler than we are right now, and it's for that reason that I recommend Growing Downward, a book that mines the Scriptures to show how to display a humility that is empowered by Christ and  exalts the name of Christ.” — Tim Challies

Growing Downward is the most robust, biblical, theological discussion of humility I’ve seen. Nick roots the discussion exactly where it needs to begin—with a theology of God. He defines humility as ‘the downward disposition of a Godward self-perception.’ Humility happens when we see ourselves in light of the grandeur and grace of God. There is nothing trite about this book. It is a mini theology, covering topics from the character of God to the nature of sin, anthropology, Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology—all of it pointing to the magnificent glory of God and the joy of true humility before Him. The benefit of this book is that it doesn’t merely talk about humility; it actively helps readers experience humility as they are brought before the truth of God. While the material is weighty, Nick uses personal illustrations, stories, and notes that keep it moving along. But this is not a book to be read quickly. The truths are too deep. It would make for a great small group Bible study. Highly recommend!” — Dale VanDyke, senior pastor, Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Wyoming, Michigan

“Defining humility as ‘the downward disposition of a Godward, Christ-centered self-perception’ in view of so much misconception, Thompson shows how relentlessly biblical the implications of this definition are for the life of the believer. Doctrinally penetrating, consistently pastoral, and highly readable, Growing Downward is as edifying as it is deeply searching.” — Richard B. Gaffin Jr., professor of biblical and systematic theology, emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary

“Among the most significant characteristics that believers ought to seek in a world inundated with pride and arrogance is true humility. But what is humility, and how does a Christian come to embody it? In Growing Downward: The Path of Christ-Exalting Humility, Nick Thompson walks through the biblical and redemptive-historical teaching about humility, encouraging believers to understand what it is and how to possess it. Rooting his teaching in biblical anthropology and Christology, Thompson helps us understand better the reasons we should pursue humility, how Christ is the source and example of it, and how we can grow in it. If you are looking to read a theologically rich and spiritually edifying book, look no further.”  — Nick Batzig, pastor of Church Creek PCA in Charleston, South Carolina, and associate editor, Ligonier Ministries

“In this much-needed, well-written, easy-to-read book on a critical subject for every Christian, Nick Thompson reminds us that real humility springs from knowing God and ourselves as both truly are. His book is a model of how theology should be applied to practical Christian living. He offers no manual on how to act humbly but provides biblical motivations to be humble. May God use this essential book in all of our lives so that we may genuinely confess with John the Baptist, ‘[Christ] must increase, and I must decrease.’”   — Joel R. Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

About the Author

Nick Thompson is the pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he resides with his wife and three sons.