This is probably stating the obvious, but I was suddenly struck today by the realisation that the true mark of maturity is a genuine humility. The humble person is not necessarily “right” in every instance, but he or she is fundamentally trustworthy.

Needless to say, I am talking about true humility, of people who are secure enough in who they are before God that they are able to admit to their own failures, ignorance and weakness. And then I wonder whether the expectations that we have of religious leaders do not militate against a growth in such humility – perhaps that is why the desert fathers counselled their monks to flee bishops (i.e. ordination) – thereby undermining their ability to radiate a true authority. For the authority of the truly humble is somehow self-authenticating and, at least in my experience, also enables others to begin to grasp something of the truth about themselves.

And I also wonder whether, at least for most of us, growth in such humility only comes with age and hard experience? It is probably not for nothing that Orthodoxy ascribes a particular role to the elders, however much I may dislike the romanticism with which that term is sometimes used!

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