BJ Gonzalvo is an organizational psychologist and author of the book Leadership Lessons From the Saints.
by BJ Gonzalvo, PhD
Mother Teresa and Saint Francis of Assisi constantly reminded their followers that the work they did were not theirs but God’s. When asked why God picked them, they both reply that God chose them, the lowliest and the weakest, so that the people will know that what they do are possible only because of God. They wanted to make sure that it was God who gets all the glory and not them.
It is not easy to find such humility these days. In today’s culture of amped up self-promotion, pride, and personal horn-tooting, to want to be humble is unheard of and just plain peculiar. When was the last time you heard someone, anywhere, even from the church pulpits, preaching about humility? Humility gets a bad rap these days. Just look at how the role of humility has evolved over the years in different arenas of life such as sports and business. One sports columnist actually wrote about humility in sports and shrewdly titled his article“ May Humility Rest in Peace.” Being humble is just not the typical virtue promoted or practiced if one wants to win a championship or to move up the corporate ladder. We tend to associate humility with low self-esteem, shyness, lack of confidence, and an inferior sense of worth or importance. It can understandably be a very confusing conundrum, and for leaders, it can be a difficult act to find the balance between humility and self-esteem.
Humility is a very foundational trait for those wishing to follow the footsteps of Christ who, Himself, came down from His kingdom in heaven to raise up the humble and the lowly. In the Old Testament, humility was a very important trait for a leader. Moses, one of the greatest leadership figures we have in history, was also one of the most humble in the Old Testament, “more so than any person on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses’ humility allowed him to clearly see the purpose of God for choosing him. Because of his humility, God chose him to lead 2 million people out of captivity into the promised land. In a recent homily by Pope Francis, he said that “Humility is the way to holiness.” Humility clears up the murkiness brought on by too much pride and arrogance, allowing us to see our own limitations and littleness, allowing us to realize the greatness of God.
Please come back, Humility. May we be able to find you again. May we actively seek you and pursue you. We might not realize it now but we need you.