Pastor’s Corner: Humility

A stone monument bearing the single word, "Humility."

April 28, 2021

In an episode of Stay Tuned with Preet recorded on March 23rd of this year, host Preet Bharara asked organizational psychologist Adam Grant about the appropriate relationship between someone’s competence – their actual ability to do a task or tasks – and their confidence – their sense that they could accomplish that task or tasks. In previous writing, Dr. Grant had said that competence and confidence should be roughly equal. People should approach their work with fairly good self-awareness of their strengths and their failings, seeking to fully employ the former and compensate for (or improve) the latter.

In the interview last month, however, Dr. Grant had changed his mind. Dr. Basima Tewfik has done research into “imposter syndrome,” that feeling that one is not capable of meeting the demands before one. She found that there were benefits, not costs, to feeling doubts about one’s abilities. Among the investment and medical professionals she studied, those who reported more doubts tended to make better decisions.

It was a scientific affirmation of the ancient spiritual virtue of humility.

Said Dr. Grant, “…ideally it turns into confident humility where you’re secure enough in your strengths to acknowledge your weaknesses. And you’re comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know yet, but I think I could figure it out.’ And what that allows you to do is not only to recognize your limitations, but actually to overcome them.”

American culture is overwhelmed with the worship of accomplishment, success, wealth, power, and pride. It distrusts humility, discounts self-doubt and even self-awareness. For heaven’s sake, it made the virtue of humility into a disorder, “imposter’s syndrome.”

There are many in our society who do need to summon up a greater awareness of their worth. People hear about their worthlessness due to race, sex, creed, or circumstance every day, and one of the tragedies of life is that they believe them. Humility is not the same as humiliated.

For others, however, can we recover that ancient value of humility, living as if there is always more to learn?

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Listen to the episode and read a transcript at:

Photo by JanZiembicki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on April 28, 2021

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