Humility gives us the sacred gift of being able to learn from everyone. It gives us the ability to take advice from any person who gives it, not just the brilliant or the holy or the great, but from the simple and the ignorant and from those who may be far below our own position or station in life. It gives us the power to imitate Christ himself, who learned from Peter how to catch fish, and from Joseph how to make tables, and from Mary how to eat. It gives us the power to learn, even from those who do not appeal to us at all, whom we may not like very much.
The humble person knows he doesn’t know all things, knows that good advice, no matter what the source, is a rare gift, a gift that helps develop the wonder of self-knowledge. Very often, it is from people we may not like very much, or from people who are a little nasty and mean, that we learn how deep our pride is in reality and how far we still have to go before we have reached any real degree of humility. For such people will tell us what they think of us, will give us advice without bothering to be nice about it, will show us quite brilliantly and quite cuttingly, too, by the way, how proud we really are. Real humility will give us the power to accept such words, and though they may hurt because we are still human, we will be able to take them and because of them grow even closer to Christ.
—Excerpted from With God in America by Walter J. Ciszek, SJ