Reasons to Be Humble
by Richard Lamey
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To examine the idea of humility.
Preparation and materials
- Litter to throw on the floor beforehand
- Foot-washing equipment (bowl, warm water, towel)
- Short play to be acted with two voices
- A PowerPoint would be a good way of holding the assembly together with the core ideas displayed because it is a slightly bitty assembly and it moves quickly through different ideas.
- What is it to be humble? What is humility? (This is a very important question because a lot of people link it to humiliation.)
Emphasize that humility is about just getting on with being you, and not playing to the audience all of the time, just doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
- Interruption - the headteacher suddenly sees the litter on the floor, apologizes and picks it up as quickly as she can. Discuss why she did something like picking up the litter when she is the headteacher, responsible for the whole school. It isn’t her job to pick up litter. She could ask someone else to do it. But in the end it was just the right thing to do - she didn’t say, 'I am the head, someone unimportant should do it', but did the right thing.
- Humility is about doing the right thing and not worrying about what you look like or what others think of you. It is knowing who you are, which means that you don’t have to buy into what everyone else says about you.
- Link to Kipling’s ‘If’ - explain who Kipling is, that he wrote the Jungle Book and was the most famous writer of his generation. It is a difficult poem in some ways - but the point of it is that you must be yourself and not allow your head to swell because people say you are amazing or to get depressed because people say you’re rubbish.
'If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings but not lose the common touch.'
It comes down to the fact that being the centre of someone’s world means that we don’t have to kid ourselves that we are the centre of the universe. Be yourself.
- It isn’t about your title or position or qualifications but about the difference you can make by doing the right thing - like Jesus, in coming to earth and washing the feet of his disciples. Re-enact this, emphasizing the dirt of their feet and the message Jesus gives: 'If I do this for you, you must do it for others.'
Jesus is important but he washes feet. Your headteacher is important but she picked up the litter on the floor. Perhaps we shouldn’t say ‘but’ but rather 'because' - they are important because they do those things, not boasting about how important they are, not showing off but doing what needs to be done.
Time for reflection
There is an urban myth about the captain of an aircraft carrier having an argument with someone else, making them move out of his way. It suggests something of what can happen when we stop being humble and start to believe what others tell us.
Voice 1: Please divert your course 5 degrees to starboard. You are on a collision course with me.
Voice 2: Message received. Please divert your course 10 degrees to port to avoid a big collision.
Voice 1: I am Captain Johnson of the Royal Navy. Change course.
Voice 2: I’m Bobby. Suggest you divert your course 10 degrees to port to avoid collision.
Voice 1: I am a senior naval officer, commanding Her Majesty’s largest and most impressive aircraft carrier. Change course. You don’t seem to know who I am or how cross I am getting. Divert your course immediately.
Voice 2: I’m not a senior naval officer. I’m just here to make sure that this lonely lighthouse on an island in the sea is kept clean and that everyone can see the light, so they don’t crash on to the rocks . . .
Hold silence at the end of the dialogue.
‘I come like a beggar’ (Come and Praise, 90)