PRAYER: Abba Father, Most Holy God, thank you for allowing me into your presence. When I think of all that you have done, the incredible universe you have made and hold us together by your word, I am amazed. You invite us into your presence, I am amazed that you even care about my choice of words. Thank you, LORD, for knowing me and having a plan for my life. Help me this day to live with humility and grace before others as I seek to glorify you in all things. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
REFLECTION: Humble yourselves. That sounds rude. At least to the, "get win at all cost" and "don't look back the competition is gaining on you" culture. This culture of self-promotion is driven by pride. Humility is a forgotten virtue. Often confused with weakness or timidity.
RESEARCH: Interestingly, the empirical research on humility shows that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Humble people have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and they tend to be forgiving, grateful, and cooperative. A recent set of studies also shows that humility is a consistent predictor of generosity.1 People who are humble tend to be more generous with both their time and their money.
Some philosophers historically have not been impressed with humility. Aristotle leaves it out of his catalogue of virtues, while both David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche are critical of this trait.
However, the empirical evidence shows that this sort of criticism of humility is mistaken. Humility can advance one's fortune in the world, as it is a distinguishing trait of CEO's of successful organizations. The connection between humility and generosity shows that it does render one a more valuable member of society.
Humble individuals as well-adjusted and kind. It looks like the empirical evidence about the value of humility shows us that Hume's rejection of it was a mistake.
Given its appropriateness for us as limited and fallible human beings, and its value for both individual flourishing and social welfare, humility is a trait worth cultivating.
References: Julie Exline and Peter Hill, "Humility: A consistent and robust predictor of generosity," The Journal of Positive Psychology (May 2012): 208-218. This article contains the references related to the other empirical findings related to humility discussed above.