A Review of John Dickson’s Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership

“…there is something about advocating humility that makes people, especially the author,  feel a little uncomfortable… Humility stands alone among the virtues in that as soon as you think you have it, you probably don’t. And, yet, the reverse does not follow.”

When I first started reading John Dickson’s work about humility, I was not sure, at first, where he was going and I was also not sure, at first, if I was going to like it. But, when I read this statement, “The most influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility,” I was hooked and looked forward to the rest of the book. Published by Zondervan, Humilitas draws on both Classical philosophy, Christianity, Psychology, and contemporary leadership theory, to make a point about the value of this elusive virtue and character trait that Dickson believes is vital for us today in regards to live a fruitful, and humane, life.

Dickson begins with making a case for humility in the opening chapter of eleven chapters in which he makes the statement that was quoted above and then, takes the reader on a journey to the past and traces the development of humility through a study of Classical philosophy and examines humility’s role, and, at times, lack of respect, throughout history. Along the way he cites both historical and contemporary figures in the world of sports, politics, and business to illustrate the place and value of humility.

And while Dickson’s historical sketches and perspective is very helpful in setting the table regarding the place and need of humility, it is in the latter chapters of the book that he makes a case for humility as a key part of a person’s character development. And key to his case is the impact of Jesus Christ and the Judeo-Christian influence on the concept of humbling one’s self and becoming a servant that was unique and was the opposite of the self-promotion of Greek and Roman philosophy.

And while Dickson’s breadth  of knowledge is made clear, he offers some very practical steps to begin to develop the trait of humility in one’s life and concludes with a poignant quote about humility from the late CS Lewis “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think tell him the first step. The first step is to realize one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it.”

A book in which faith is embraced as a positive and not a negative; in which the motivational aspect of humility is seen as a leadership quality as opposed to the gluttonous view of self-promotion; and that humbling oneself to serve others is a sign of strength and not weakness, Humilitas, is a book that deserves to be read in courses on leadership as well as philosophy and religion.

On my rating scale this book is a ‘5’ a great read.

Notice: I received a copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program. I was not required to write a favorable review.




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