Humility as a verb

19 01 2012

Being humble is still regarded as a worthy attribute.  In fact, Jim Collins wrote an excellent article called “Level Five Leadership” in which he highlighted that truly great leaders have the combination of deep personal humility with intense professional will.  Basically, they focus on doing what is best for the organization to succeed (professional will) and they have the ability to look to others for reasons things go well and look at themselves when things go wrong (personal humility).

Being humble takes a lot of confidence.  We have to be okay with who we are and what our strengths and weaknesses are.  Humility takes us one more step in that process.  It allows us to look at our weaknesses through someone else’s strengths so we can grow and mature.

A practical example:  I admit I am sick and I go to the doctor.  That is a start.  Humility steps in when I actually submit to the doctor’s recommendation and prescription.  I know I made some of you smile.  How many times has a doctor advised us to do something but we felt we didn’t need to listen to her and we did our own thing?

There are two opposites of true humility.  One is pride and arrogance.  We assume we are smarter and don’t need to submit to another person’s strengths or ideas.  The second is when we devalue ourselves and have a low view of ourselves.  This one looks similar to humility but actually is a form of arrogance.  We believe we are of so little worth that not even God could step in.  Therefore, to sink that low must mean we have more power than God.  (It is not so humble when we look at it from that point of view.)

The reason humility is a Christian virtue is because it is rooted in two basic truths.  One, we are human and therefore we will fail and have shortcomings.  We sin and hurt others.  Two, God is a good and loving God who has the strength and ability to transform our lives.  As Christians, we can look at our weaknesses through God’s strength and we can grow and mature.

Jesus was the ultimate level five leader.  Philippians 2:8 says “he humbled himself and became obedient to death.”  His focus was on the wellbeing of creation and wanted what was best for humanity (professional will is only a shadow of this).  He knew submitting to his Father’s will was the only way this would work (personal humility).

Please understand Jesus had great confidence in who he was.  He knew he was the only one who had the power to face death and conquer it.  Many people “lose their life” but it is not through obedience like Jesus but because they do not believe their life has value.  Jesus was focused on his Father’s will and our best interest.  He was relying on strength that only comes from God.  That is true humility.

We are invited to view life in the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 says “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  We need to have true humility.

I invite each one of us to look at our lives and find areas where we have the opposite of humility.  Maybe there is an area of pride and we are limiting ourselves by shutting out others who have strengths that could help us.  Maybe there is an area that you are ashamed of.  You can’t even look at it and are covering it up with false humility.

Once you have found an area, look to God.  Look for God’s strength and view your weakness through it.  This may require you to talk with someone you trust and open up about the struggle you are having.  It may require that you ask for forgiveness because of arrogance.  Yes, you will need to ask for forgiveness if your arrogance means you think so little of yourself that not even God can transform you.  This is about true humility.

The great thing is God truly is the best leader.  I have always respected leaders who say “do as I do, not just as I say.”  God is not asking us to do anything he has not already done.  I want to view my weaknesses through his strength.  I want true humility.  How about you?



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