“True humility–the basis of the Christian system–is the low but deep and firm foundation of all virtues.” Edmund Burke
Humility insulates us from pride. CS Lewis calls pride the greatest of sins because it leads to all others. The greater the person, the greater their vulnerability and the greater their fall from pride. The sin of pride caused Lucifer to rebel against God and be cast out of heaven.
To be humble is to be honest with yourself. To be humble is to admit your own shortcomings, your mistakes, your weaknesses. Only by being honest can you recognize your own faults and only by admitting them can you address and correct the problem. That’s why humility is considered the foundational virtue.
“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Saint Augustine
Without humility we run the risk of an inflated ego. Ever notice how someone with a long history of being a loser that gains some small success becomes insufferable? Have you seen someone that is awarded great success at a young age without having to strive or sacrifice to attain it? It is why child stars and heirs to great fortunes have a tendency to self destruct. The ones that don’t are those that are firmly grounded with a sense of humility.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself either. I am no better than anyone else. I have certain gifts and talents but they only make me more or less suited to certain situations. I do not view myself in a negative light. After all, I am important. I am a child of God. I am inherently valuable and priceless. I have a soul. But so does that homeless person. When you have a perspective of humility, you see the value in all people. It’s why humility leads to compassion and compassion to charisma.
By placing value on others we position ourselves to greatly impact them in a positive way. Only once did Jesus say that he was setting an example for his disciples. It was when he was washing their feet. If I were walking on water, curing disease, casting out demons, and raising the dead; I could see myself having trouble remaining humble.
Without humility, any other values you instill in your children will eventually be lost to pride. With a false sense of one’s own greatness, they will feel entitled to the kindness of others without the obligation to be kind to them. Same with discipline, same with perseverance. How many people put into a position of power and prominence feel that they no longer need to be honest or take responsibility for their actions?
Humility is not just food for the good wolf. It’s also antitoxin that prevents the poison of pride from killing or corrupting it.
“To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.” Ben Franklin