By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
“…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The quotation above is taken from the gospel reading for this weekend (Luke 14:1; 7–14). All the readings of the day focus on the virtue of “humility” e.g. Sirach 3:18 tells us: “conduct your affairs with humility… humble yourself the more the greater you are, and you will find favour with God.”
At a time in our history when so many are puffed up with arrogance and pride, and do things just to stroke their ego, let’s take some time to reflect on this virtue.
Christians, and indeed all people of goodwill are called to “live in harmony, be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, and be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). For Christians, to be humble is to be Christlike.
Christ is the greatest example of humility. Each day our humility is tested e.g. by the way we treat others in our family, workplaces, and communities. Humility is about moving from “I” to “we”; to promote justice, peace, truth, love and freedom for all.
Humility is not a sign of weakness in a person; it is not about being self-deprecating; it is about having a sense of self-worth. It is the virtue we need if we are to build right relationships with God, with each other, and with all Creation.
The first step towards humility is to recognise that all the gifts we have come from God. It is only by “clothing” ourselves with humility towards one another (1 Peter 5:5) that we truly understand that we can do nothing without God; we need God’s grace. Indeed, we will only know God and of His purpose for us if we are humble.
Humility helps us to recognise our limitations and should lead us to pray daily: “Not my will, but thy will be done, Lord”, thus submitting ourselves to God, our Father, as Our Lord did by dying on the Cross for us (Luke 22:42).
The writer Abigail Reimel reminds us that: “Humility is becoming a lost virtue in the modern world. Our digital technology seems to make us think about ourselves all the time. But C.S. Lewis reminds us: ‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.’
“Humility disappears because we are so focused on ourselves that we forget to think about others. We forget that we are as imperfect as everyone around us. Each of us makes mistakes, some hurtful, some which only embarrass us. But we have forgotten the beauty that issues from reacting with sincere contrition or simple laughter rather than self-righteous offense. More, we have lost the joy that comes from caring genuinely about others more than about ourselves.”
We all need a good dose of humility in T&T if we are to build our nation. Our leaders in particular need to remember that to serve the people they are supposed to lead requires humility.
You may remember the motivational saying: “If serving is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.” Each of our leaders —at all levels, “swear blind” that he/she can make a difference and can do better than others.
Perhaps if leaders embrace humility, suppress their ego, and become servant leaders, they may be more open to listening to the people, their concerns, and to new ideas. Humility is relevant at all levels of an organisation.
The CEO Khalid Aziz rightly said: “Whether your organisation operates in the commercial or not for profit sectors, the current global landscape means the problems senior leaders will encounter are increasingly complex and require a collaborative approach to solving them.
“No one person will have all the right answers. The ability to demonstrate humility, by visibly embracing mistakes and failure, accepting criticism and acknowledging that other people’s capabilities may be superior to their own, are essential personality traits for CEOs and senior leaders to have…There are set traits that individuals with natural humility display. One key indicator is an individual who genuinely seeks opinion, information and insights from people, absorbing what is uncovered and acting upon it, giving credit where due.”
Humility helps us to recognise our wrong-doings and to repent when we stray from the right path — read the parable of the Prodigal Son. Let us strip ourselves of pretentiousness and clothe ourselves in humility.