Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Humility. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

More than half the population of Britain will be disappointed today. They will have a different Prime Minister from the one they voted for. Captain Beany’s failure to get elected as MP for Cardiff Central will not however have surprised him or his followers. Hoping to become Britain's first elected baked bean, Beany's manifesto was “easily digestible”. He vowed to keep beans on toast in every Cardiff cafe, perform daily bean quality checks and remain "incredibly orange." He said he wanted full-blown, not "half-baked" policies and a "wind of change" in British politics.

Captain Beany thought it was worth the lost £500 deposit to bring some humour into the election. It enabled Cardiff voters not to get too carried away by the seriousness business of deciding whom to vote for. His eight rivals were also forced to be in touch with their own child-like sense of fun as they responded to his appearances at election rallies.

When Jesus suggested child-likeness was a valuable quality, perhaps he had in mind, among other things, a child’s capacity for having fun. Being playful can usefully distance us temporarily from any stress associated with important decisions and difficult situations. It also helps us not to take ourselves too seriously, an important contribution to preventing inappropriate self-importance and encouraging a proper humility.

If we get the chance today, let’s have fun. It’ll make us calmer and more effective when we return to the more serious side of living. It’ll do our egos good. In fact whoever turns out to be our new leader today, it might be a quality that would help them do the demanding job of being Prime Minister.

At Harrison Hot Springs in Canada, from last week until October, visitors will be enjoying the Tournament of Champions Competition. Competitors from all over the world have gathered for the annual exhibition of sand sculpture. The variety of subjects, the size of some of the exhibits, and the skill shown in their creation attracts publiciity throughout the summer.

When it's all over the small town returns to its normal quiet self again and the sculptures disintegrate. The vulnerability of these works of art to wind and weather echoes the fragility of all work of human creation. Eventually, as the hymn writer Joachim Neander put it, ‘what with care and toil we fashion, tower and temple, fall to dust’.

The urge to leave something lasting, to make an enduring contribution to human development, has motivated some of the world’s greatest artists and creators as well as less successful human effort. The age and grandeur of some of humanity’s great artefacts is awesome. Yet even they are dwarfed by the age of the world and the wonder of its natural beauty.

The hymn goes on to assert that ‘God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower’. For many, it will be God’s majesty that leaves us aware of the comparative insignificance of human beings; for others, it will be more an awareness of the immensity of time and space. Perhaps today it’s worth getting in touch with that humility which, whatever our beliefs, is an appropriate element of our human nature.

Humility is not a quality immediately associated with television presenter, Jeremy Paxman. The imperious and condescending look he sometimes has during his fearless inquisitions of politicians and others seems a far cry from his recent remark that “It makes me feel humble”. What inspired the comment was a visit to some of the projects organised by St Mungo’s, a charity that supplies shelter and education for homeless people. “What these people are doing is harder than anything I have ever done in my life”, he said.

Traditionally, humility is a Christian virtue. But the kind of self-deprecation and more-sinful-than-thou approach that the season of Lent tends to encourage is not at all virtuous. Jesus described humility with the picture of a wedding feast in which the genuinely humble guest takes a seat at the lower end of the table on the assumption that there will be others there more important than them.* Recognising the value of others does not necessitate putting ourselves down. It does require an openness to the worth of other people and their achievements.That is a mark of true humility.

“Trying to be humble” won’t work – the focus is too much on ourselves. Perhaps today we could notice especially the personalities and accomplishments of those around us. True appreciation of their value is a worthwhile end in itself but it may also lead to a deeper humility in ourselves.

*Luke 14:7-11