Learning Humility

Preparing for this little essay, I spotted this headline from today’s The New York Times, AI’s Best Trick Yet Is Showering Us With Attention. Last week Americans, and indeed the world, were treated to photos of our Congresspeople posturing for social media seeking attention in any way they could get it. But it’s not just the Kardashians or Paris Hilton, who was “famous for being famous.” We all want to get into the act.

Richard J. Foster begins his latest book with the trigger that set him on a year-long study and reflection on humility. In a society where raging narcissism dominates the moral landscape, the virtue of humility is often dismissed as irrelevant. Not only is humility vanishing from contemporary culture, but we are also witnessing how destructive a lack of humility has become among our churches and ministry leaders.

I’ve not read many of Foster’s books. I have read and taught from Celebration of Discipline. This book is Learning Humility: A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue.

We learn that there is strength in humility. And there is wisdom in humility. We learn from the Bible, and from wisdom of the Lakota people, and from Julian of Norwich, and Evagrius Ponticus (one of my favorites), and more.

I recommend reading this book and joining Foster in the journey toward learning humility. And like I said yesterday, it’s not about learning it in our head, but about practicing it with our actions.

I leave you with the little prayer that guided Foster during his journey.

Lord, would you

  • purify my heart
  • renew my mind
  • sanctify my imagination, and
  • enlarge my soul.

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