Apr 12, 2022

Faith & Human Flourishing with Bishop Steven Croft (podcast)

The Bishop of Oxford discusses how community, seeking grace, listening with humility, and embracing forgiveness encourage flourishing.

By Templeton Staff

In this episode of the Stories of Impact podcast, Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, Church of England, highlights the relationship between religion, faith, and human flourishing.

Cultivating a relationship with faith communities, seeking and embodying grace, listening generously, and embracing forgiveness and redemption are each important components of life poised to flourish. These practices apply to the individual as well as collectives. "I judge the flourishing of a society by whether it is fair and transparent, and whether it cares for the vulnerable — particularly the old and the young, but also those who may otherwise struggle," shares the Bishop.

Listening and humility

"Across a church congregation or a company of 250 people, or a country with millions of citizens, you discover that each will flourish in different ways. And the key to enabling that is to listen to the different ways in which people flourish and to allow them to listen to themselves," observes Bishop Croft. "The single biggest way in which leadership contributes to human flourishing is through the exercise of humility. And those who hold power exercise what is best for the other. Humility becomes a form of love in that relationship to enable flourishing."

A challenge in today's world is creating a "space in which people can listen to each other, and know and be known as persons. That is the gift that enables people to thrive and become the people they’re intended to be... When I’m listened to, I am actually able to articulate for myself what it is that’s deep within," says the Bishop. "When I listen to somebody else, I appreciate that they are responding to the same situation as their neighbor in a very different way, and it’s through the listening that we can untangle together what would help that person best to flourish in their role."


The single biggest way in which leadership contributes to human flourishing is through the exercise of humility.


Stories of meaning and purpose

Stories of faith and from religious traditions, which have been passed down from generation to generation, offer insight into what does or does not help humans flourish. "As I look down the centuries, the terms 'meaning and purpose' have been profoundly important. It’s a fundamental part of the human condition, to continually look for meaning and to make meaning, and to try and discover meaning in the realities around. And I think for human happiness, there needs to be meaningful and purposeful work and the capacity to grow and to influence others," says Bishop Croft. "We all need as children and as adults, a fundamental education, in order to understand the world and navigate through it. We all need in our work a sense of purpose and the ability to create, not to be alienated from the product of our labor, or feel that we’re being exploited or enslaved by the conditions of our work."

Flourishing is not independent of pain

A "flourishing life is not always a uniformly happy life," cautions the Bishop. "I think for life to be purposeful and meaningful, elements of sacrifice, and recognition of frailty, sometimes the suffering for a greater cause, are woven into that freedom to flourish. But a flourishing life will always contain the prospect of happiness, and we all need moments of happiness and peace and joy in our lives, in order to sustain us through the more difficult areas."

Read the transcript from the interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay, presented by writer/producer Tavia Gilbert, which features Bishop Steven Croft.

Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and host Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.