Humility and Wellbeing

Findings from one of the studies of Humility in Religious Leaders will be published in theĀ Journal of Religion and Health. In this study of humility and well-being among established religious leaders (3 years or more; N=274) from the Abrahamic faiths. We found support for the Relational Spirituality Model with (a) differentiation of self and (b) attachment security with God as mediators or “middle factors” accounting for the positive impact of humility and several measures of well-being and mental health and the negative relationship between humility and narcissism. What is the upshot of this? These findings support the importance of differentiation of self and capacities for emotion regulation among religious leaders as suggested by several theorists of clergy well-being including Nancy Devor (see Olsen & Devor, 2015)

The findings also highlight the importance of attachment-based, implicit dynamics of relational spirituality in explaining links between humility and well-being (positively) and humility and narcissism (negatively). Of course, religious leaders (and really all adherents) across these traditions are called to be humble and not prideful, however we understand from psychodynamic developmental perspectives these are not simple, conscious behavioral choices. This study did not investigate change processes or a clinical sample, but the findings are suggestive that facilitating growth in differentiation of self and attachment security may be important targets of intervention in order for healthy humility to positively impact well-being.


Humility in Religious Leaders project:

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Article Citation:

Jankowski, P. J., Sandage, S. J., Bell, C. A., Ruffing, E. G., & Adams, C. (2018). Humility and wellbeing: Testing a relational spirituality model among religious leaders. Journal of Religion and Health.