” If it’s true that humility is necessarily something that happens in you when you’re not looking, how on earth do we think about it, let alone make the sort of decisions that might help us grow into it?”
This profound question from Rowan Williams is the opening line from Stephen Cherry’s book Barefoot Disciple: Walking the way of passionate humility. Its a question that if I am honest makes me want to run a mile and change the theme of this Journey! For if the great and wise Rowan is asking this who am I to explore this theme! Seeking Humility is a risky business. In pursuing it or extolling its virtues we always risk coming across as either to holy or to modest!
However there are 3 reasons why I think it is important for me to explore and journey in this theme at this stage.
1. As Stephen Cherry points out. In today’s world humility is seriously out of fashion. As he put it, we are part of a humility averse society. This is in part because when we hear the word we immediately go on the defensive, or become cynical and think that any expression of humility is so often just false, weak or unreal. There is some truth in this, absolutely, but is it really the whole truth? Humility is also out of fashion because it seems so alien in a culture where celebrity, authority, selling yourself and focussing on achievements and status is so valued. Now I’m not saying that all of those things are bad, not at all, but am questioning the dangers of being so focused on these at the expense of credible alternatives.
2. Having raised the question in his introduction, Rowan Williams then moves on to talk about ‘passionate humility’. This is not a humility that is false, weak or a form of being comfortable to allow one’s self to be exploited. It is a genuine humility that is creative in character, that is bravely self confident because it is self forgetting. He goes onto say “Humility indeed happens when we’re not looking. And that means that we have to learn where to look if we want to grow into the truth”
3. I am also struck and reminded about the many people I have met, worked with and spent time with, perhaps especially people on my overseas travels with Tearfund, who model and live out a passionate, sacrificial, creative humility that for me has been a great blessing and a great signpost of the ability of the character and goodness of God to be shown and outworked in and through people, his creation!
Its for these reasons and the title and possibility of Stephen Cherry’s book that I want to take this journey and be a ‘barefoot disciple’ and explore what it means to be passionately humble and live life in the way of creative passionate humility.
So here my journey begins….