“Humilitas”: A Saturday Afternoon Book Review

Today, I would like to introduce the “Saturday Afternoon Book Review,” a new series highlighting little-known books that offer valuable and often challenging insights into subjects that are sorely in need of genuine theological reflection.  I begin with John Dickson’s 2011 release, entitled Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership.

As I recently made my way through this slim, yet highly engaging, volume on the subject of humility, I was struck by one overwhelmingly convicting thought.  This virtue, which in many ways encapsulates the “fruits of the spirit”[1] described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians, has largely disappeared in today’s society.  As the secular culture continues to promote thinking and behaviors that veer dangerously close to narcissism, the modern church has likewise adopted a similar culture whereby successful leaders and pastors are often given a pass on this characteristic so long as they can skillfully construct a wide-ranging ministry that is financially robust and openly admired.

But the interesting thing about Dickson’s book is that it does not pit humility against success or growth.  Instead, it tries to make the argument that humility is often one of the most important characteristics of those people that have historically achieved the loftiest of goals.  In other words, while people seem to be able to construct “empires” that “succeed” over a short period of time, very few construct anything lasting or memorable unless they are grounded first by the belief that it is not the individual that matters.

What a clarion call in an Enlightened society and church that seems ever more interested in elevating the glory of the individual over the needs of the community.


[1] The fruits of the Spirit are defined in Galatians 5:22-23 as follows: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

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2 Responses to “Humilitas”: A Saturday Afternoon Book Review

  1. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    The interesting thing to watch over the next 10-15 years will be the megachurch. They are, in terms of church history, extremely new, and they, as a whole, have not proved themselves beyond a single generation. As a whole, they have not survived the passing of the original leader. Will Harvest, Williow, Fellowship, ect. survive the founding pastor? Are they really here to stay?

  2. From a sociology of religion perspective, the question of succession is one of the primary issues related to defining a religious movement as a cult. It will be interesting to see how many of these churches truly have been built on the Word as opposed to a “cult of personality.”

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