Learning Humility: A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue, By Richard J. Foster alt

Learning Humility

A Year of Searching for a Vanishing Virtue

by Richard J. Foster

Learning Humility
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Published: December 06, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: A0213
  • ISBN: 9781514002131

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Outreach Resource of the Year, Spiritual Growth

In a society where raging narcissism dominates the moral landscape, the virtue of humility is often dismissed as irrelevant. Not only is humility vanishing from contemporary culture, but we are also witnessing how destructive a lack of humility has become among our churches and ministry leaders. And yet, Richard Foster, the founder of Renovaré, insists that humility is central to the journey toward character formation and spiritual transformation. For this reason he decided to spend a year studying the virtue of humility.

Using the Lakota calendar as a framework, Foster provides us with a look into the insights he gathered from sources ranging from Native American culture to Julian of Norwich to Scripture to personal friends. By engaging with both the spiritual classics and Foster's own experiences, Learning Humility provides profound insight into what humility can look like in our current cultural climate.

Join Richard Foster on the journey toward a life of humility, which he says leads us into "freedom, joy, and holy hilarity."

"Learning Humility is Richard Foster's pilgrim journey seeking and showing the way of humility. This tender, gentle retelling weaves the wisdom of the Lakota peoples and the humble way of Christ and his followers to reveal a stirring vision of humility. In our day of overheated egos and endless self-fixation, Foster offers us the cool water of deeper connection found through humility. In the midst of our confusion, he shows the slow and welcome process of clarity found through humility. This is the book I've been looking for, and I will return to it over and over, continuing to learn this humble way that my soul longs for."

Lacy Finn Borgo, author of Spiritual Conversations with Children and All Will Be Well: Learning to Trust God's Love

"In the way that the world was given the four agreements through Don Miguel Ruiz's Toltec lens, Richard Foster offers a vibrant and refreshing new view using the lens of the native North American Lakota people. We need a diverse lens. I celebrate the discipline Richard undertook of his year-long experiment with Learning Humility. I am grateful for the welcoming language that gives a new way of seeing and humbly being open to living our most expansive with-God lives. Richard's is a fresh word for our times and a deeply soul-satisfying reminder of this virtue so desperately needed."

Juanita Campbell Rasmus, spiritual director and author of Learning to Be

"Humility is an essential and highly nuanced topic for us Christians; there are such fine lines to be found—between humility and humiliation, self-regard and self-promotion, healthy self-esteem and the sin of pride. Foster finds the line and walks it beautifully. The idea that we do not try to attain humility directly but we 'come at the matter indirectly. We simply take up those things that, in God's time and in God's way, will lead us into the virtue of humility' is tremendously hopeful. It is worth the price of the book."

Ruth Haley Barton, founder of the Transforming Center and author of Sacred Rhythms

"Destined to be another classic from Richard J. Foster, Learning Humility is a gift from a gifted writer. In this book we get to walk with Richard not only on the trails of Colorado but also on the terrain of the soul. Richard is a true scribe of the kingdom who brings forth treasures old and new (Matthew 13:52). The breadth and depth of the wisdom bearers he quotes is immense, from Peter and Paul, to Evagrius and Julian, to Chief Joseph and Underhill, to Kelly and Law, and to Murray and contemporary writers. Framed by the thirteen months and moons of the Lakota and filled with liturgies and litanies, this book ignited in me a hunger for humility in my own life. This is one of Richard's signature gifts: he makes us long for difficult things by helping us see that virtues, like humility, are the pearl of great price, worth giving all we have to obtain it. This book is an engaging and insightful gem, and I am the better for having read it."

James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

"Richard Foster shows how humility is not a confusing burden of trying to be something we'll never be but a way of being that focuses on God's goodness and results in being naturally kind, free of striving, and more lighthearted. Don't miss it!"

Jan Johnson, author of Abundant Simplicity and president of Dallas Willard Ministries

"In his latest book, Learning Humility, Richard Foster opens up the pages of his journal and grants us access to his yearlong 'prayer experiment' of cultivating this foundational—and countercultural—Christian virtue. With winsome candor and the unassuming posture of a learner, Foster wonders, wrestles, seeks, confesses, and puts into practice ways of cooperating with the Holy Spirit's work of transformation. As he notices and names his own temptations toward pride, he gently holds up the mirror for us to notice and name ours as well. A seasoned mentor, Foster reminds us to keep pace with the slow, lifelong work of grace while not neglecting our call to embrace and embody the cruciform, humble way of Jesus. This is a challenging, thoughtful, soul-stretching book."

Sharon Garlough Brown, author of the Sensible Shoes Series and Feathers of Hope


A Beginning Word

Part I: The Cold and Dark Moons (Winter—Waniyetu)
1. The Hard Moon
2. The Moon When Trees Crack from the Cold
3. The Moon of the Sore Eyes

Part II: The Moons of Renewal and Growth (Spring—Wetú)
4. The Moon When the Ducks Come Back
5. The Moon of Making Fat
6. The Moon of the Green Leaves

Part III: The Warm Moons (Summer—Blokétu)
7. The Moon When the Berries Are Good
8. The Moon When the Chokecherries Are Black
9. The Moon of the Harvest

Part IV: The Moons of Change (Autumn—Ptanyétu)
10. The Moon of the Brown Leaves
11. The Moon When the Wind Shakes Off the Leaves
12. The Moon of the Rutting Deer
13. The Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers

Finis: A Concluding Word
Further Reading


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Richard J. Foster

Richard J. Foster (DThP, Fuller Theological Seminary) is founder of Renovaré in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of many books, including Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, which has sold over two million copies worldwide, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World, and coauthor (with Gayle Beebe) of Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion.