From the Preface by the Archbishop of Canterbury
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. We must look into the purpose, the mission, of God and allow ourselves to be taken up into the terror and exhilaration of this mystery so that we forget to protect ourselves. This is the heart of that childlikeness which Stephen identifies with real Christian maturity. But the opportunity for this does not come only in the context of prayer and praise; it develops in moments when I find I have become a stranger to myself, moments when I have lost my bearings and can’t see the way forward – the moments when I have to learn something new in order to live. Wisdom, Stephen writes, ‘demands that we take the risk of being overwhelmed’. And this vulnerable willingness to become a stranger and lose our bearings is the key to entry into the world of Jesus Christ: we find ourselves guests of Christ, strangers welcomed into a home, and so learn to exercise hospitality ourselves. In all this too, we come to understand ourselves i more fully as bodily beings, constantly tempted to fantasize ourselves out of the material world and to create boundaries between soul and flesh: humility is, of course, incarnation, recognizing I that it is precisely as changing and decaying physical agents that we engage with the real world, not the imagined one that we can manipulate for our satisfaction.
From the book:
Leadership so fascinates us today because it combines two contemporary compulsions: power and celebrity. What an intoxicating combination! No wonder there are countless shelves of books and endless programmes which offer to help us become better leaders, more powerful in our influence over others. Alongside them, and in equal volume, sit the products to help us become either more successful or happier, or perhaps both. All this stuff engages the contemporary imagination and captures its ambition. Meanwhile, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth are very reluctant to be seen to be thinking that humility is, after all, a very good thing, a central virtue. I say this not with blame but with sympathy. It really is difficult to get our heads round humility and to allow it to sink into our hearts and bones. However, the reality is that there is no alternative. Leadership, success, wealth and happiness are not the right words, the right virtues, for the people of God, the community who seek the kingdom which Jesus prefigured, inaugurated and announced.
Barefoot Disciple: Walking the Way of Passionate Humility