Vanity is not what many people think it is. It can come in many forms, and is not necessarily an infatuation with yourself. Vanity is an inordinate preoccupation with what other people think about you—which is different.
It’s important, to an extent, to care what others think about you. It can even be charitable. But when this care becomes unbalanced, it leads to neglecting more important things.
Wanting to be noticed can be vain, but not wanting to be noticed can also be vain. When you shrink back and don’t want anyone to look at you, it can be a form of vanity or false humility; because not wanting to be seen can be an indication that you care an inordinate amount about what people think of you.
Vanity can also cause an unwillingness to share the Faith. Many times we think sharing the gospel will make people think less of us. How many times has the thought of what other people think prevented you from sharing the Faith?
Balance is pertinent in every aspect of vanity, and the best way to achieve that balance is to care about what God thinks of you above all.
These sayings about humility really sum it up well, since humility is the antidote to vanity:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life).
“If you meet a really humble man … He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all” (C.S. Lewis).
Meet Fr. Mike Schmitz
Fr. Mike Schmitz serves as Director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and as chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.