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Humility: The Joy of Self-Forgetfulness (Ortlund)

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There are many misconceptions about what it means to be humble. Some think that being humble means hiding your talents and abilities or being weak and inauthentic. But the Bible paints a different picture—defining humility as a self-forgetfulness leading to joy and explaining that it is a life-giving virtue that frees you from the restricting needs of your ego. 

In Humility: The Joy of Self-Forgetfulness, Gavin Ortlund encourages readers that humility is not just an abstract virtue but a mark of gospel integrity. Ortlund examines humility both on a personal level and in the context of the church, giving examples of ways to cultivate it—including meditation on the gospel and practicing intentional gratitude. Drawing from Philippians 2 and historical texts such as C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and Jonathan Edwards’s sermon “A Christian Spirit Is a Humble Spirit,” Ortlund defines humility in light of the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, casting a vision for a gospel-centered, humble life.


“If humble people are realists (and they are), and if realists are humble people (and they are), then Ortlund’s concise work helpfully jabs us awake from our dreamy delusions of self-identity (whether too inflated or too deflated) and gives us very practical help in constructing our lives according to the plumb line of Christlike realism. Wisely, Ortlund wants us to not only understand humility but pursue it, experience it, feel it, and even enjoy it. Making reference to gems by Churchill, Lewis, Keller, Wesley, Edwards, Aquinas, Kidner, ten Boom, Augustine, Spurgeon, and more, Ortlund guides us away from misconceptions and toward genuine love, even tackling the dreaded concept of submission. I’m glad I read it.”
Sam Crabtree, Pastor for Small Groups, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota; author, Practicing Affirmation

“In today’s high-pressure world of Christian ministry, it is all too easy to adopt attitudes that are antithetical to those modeled by Christ. Pride is often considered a necessary component in the advancement of the kingdom, and humility is viewed as a weakness that is to be overcome. In this insightful book, Gavin Ortlund reminds us that humility is the way of Jesus and the only real option for his servants. A much-needed word in our time.”
Brian Brodersen, Pastor, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California

“There are timely books and there are timeless ones; fortunately, Gavin Ortlund’s new book, Humility, happens to be both. In a culture of bravado and hubris, Gavin shows us the beauty and freedom of humility—not mere kindness, sweetness, and a non-offensive personality, but humility as the redemptive DNA of the gospel, the heartbeat of Jesus’s incarnation, and the culture God’s Spirit creates in a heart and church alive to the riches of grace. What a compelling, inviting, life-giving study.”
Scotty Smith, Pastor Emeritus, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee; Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee

About the Author

Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai in Ojai, California. He is the author of several books and runs the popular YouTube channel Truth Unites. Gavin and his wife, Esther, have five children.