Humility is one of the greatest assets and attributes of a leader. Pride goes before a fall and arrogance is self serving. How do we position ourselves to lead in humility? Humility being what it is, how do we even pursue humility, isn’t it just something that is? And how to we coach and mentor humility in those we are leading and lifting?
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Gaining Humility Through Adversity and Serving
For some people humility seems to come naturally, but I don’t think it does. I think its the things that happen in our lives that humble us and transition us into a humble posture. If humility is such a desirable leadership characteristic, then how do we gain it in our lives, and how do we encourage it in the lives of those we are leading? We gain humility through embracing adversity and practicing serving.
What is Humility?
Humility is a mindset.
Humility is the way we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as superior, we will treat others according to our mindset. If we see ourselves as nothing, we will debase and demean ourselves out of our emotional instability, and unfortunately, we will demean others, because that is how we see ourselves. Humility is neither a superior attitude, nor is it self-demeaning, rather it is an attitude that finds joy in the joy and transformation of others.
An arrogant leader is less likely to develop others. They see transformation of others as hopeless. An arrogant leader tends to see others as someone to serve their agenda rather than valuing the agenda God has placed within those they lead.
Humility is strength, not weakness.
Only when we are secure in our calling and our identity in Christ can we live with a humble posture. Because of Christ in me, I don’t have to strive and pretend I am someone that I am not. I acknowledge the work of Christ in my life and my dependency upon Him.
Humility is not wish-washy namby-pamby chicken-hearted go-with-the-flow-because-we-are scared. Humility is great strength. In the beatitudes, Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The meek are not weak. The meek understand the power of finding our sufficiency in Christ, and they rest in it.
Humility is best demonstrated when I know my rights and my position so well that I don’t even have to contend or defend. I am not insecure in who I am or in my mission. I am not easily frustrated when challenged, because I know who I am and what I’m about.
A posture of humility is a posture of quiet strength.
How Do We Obtain Humility?
Humility is taught through adversity.
I’ve observed a good bit of life so far, and it is my observation that no one ever reaches their full transformational potential until they have faced adversity. In fact, the greater the adversity, and the more complete the journey back to wholeness, the greater the transformational potential residing in that individual.
I don’t want to say that adversity is necessary to accomplish great and transformational things, but just because I wish it were not true does not make it so. I would like to believe that a person can rise to their fullest spiritual leadership potential without adversity, but I don’t believe it.
Humility being an essential leadership attribute, only comes through adversity. Adversity humiliates us. Adversity reveals the fact of our singular deficiencies. Adversity makes no mistake about teaching us we need the community and support we find in others. Adversity teaches us that the greatest things are done in chorus not solo.
Look at Christ’s example. He released his power to humble himself that through his experiences he could initiate transformation.
Humility is developed through serving.
Servant-Leadership has been a buzz phrase for a few decades now. It has replaced hierarchical leadership theory as the way to lead. It is usually framed as a leadership style that considers the development of the follower.
Jesus advocated for the servant-leadership model. He taught leaders to not seek greatness and elevation, but to make themselves lower and take a serving posture. When he washed the feet of his disciples at his last Passover meal, he modeled the way and commanded them to serve in like manner. Philippians chapter 2 portrays the mission of Christ as one of service rather than self-exultation.
We find joy in serving, but it’s usually easier to be served than it is to serve, at least until we become acclimated to serving.
How do you know if you have a “servant” mentality? You truly have a serving mentality when you are treated as a servant and are not bothered by it. I am not there yet, but I am working on it!
Calibration Tools… Calibrating Your Life and Lifting Those You Love and Lead
Challenge yourself (or those you love and lead) to a serving posture. For 7 days, commit to looking for an opportunity to serve someone daily, at least once a day. Your actions will reorient your thinking.
The political climate of the United States is polarized with great arrogance being demonstrated on every side. One concern I have is that such arrogance does not find its way into the way we lead as spiritual leaders.
I love decisive leadership. I love leadership that is sure of taking the right directions. I love no non-sense leadership that calls it as it is and doubles down on the right. As spiritual leaders, mentors, and coaches, we must demonstrate and teach living a life of humility, thinking of others more than ourselves, and respond to challenges out of a place of quiet strength rather than arrogance.
Our mission, as spiritual leaders, mentors, and coaches is transformation. Being an agent of transformation is only possible if we ourselves have been transformed (or are being transformed). Humility is simply and indicator of true transformation… always is.