Following up on one of the most integral characteristics of a person, let alone a leader in business, we’ve put together a third installment of our complete blog trilogy on HUMILITY. Herein is a comprehensive review of the attributes of the humble person, six things that we can all contend for and claim as our own with the Lord’s direction.
1. The humble don’t have all the answers
Learning that you surely are not the source of wisdom and understanding is a good stepping stone in practicing humility. To the person being trained in humility, ‘I don’t know’ becomes a phrase that you’re more comfortable brandishing. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t share or provide insight, especially in areas where you have authority or experience, but being slow to speak and quick to listen materializes more suitably with deference than it does with having an opinion. You might ask: defer to what? Defer to the person in the room or in your life that knows better, defer to the Bible, defer to a later time, after you’ve had a chance to pray, read, or consult. The idea behind being OK with saying ‘I don’t know,’ is that you are not the solution to the problem and you are not the truth, but an extension or disciple of the person of Jesus, who is the truth and ultimately the answer.
2. The humble understand the paradox of achieving greatness through meekness
As Part II of our blog series examined, the total converse of the world’s assessment of greatness is true concerning the word and the ways of God. The least are, in fact, considered the greatest. The beauty of this truth is that the reward or the effects of this appeal are more so than not going to be enjoyed outside of our lives here on earth. So in essence, having a humble attitude, one where you’re more than happy washing people’s feet every day, involves perhaps above all else, faith and anticipation of eternity. It’s easy to bow and deny self if you’re guaranteed immediate recompense, but it requires faith and humility in its purest form to do it with the understanding that you likely won’t be paid back or served in the same way in the present.
3. The humble know that the right solution doesn’t need to come from them
According to Bill Johnson, the impulse that the answer or solution must come from you has to do with arrogance. Instead, a humble person that’s hungry for God acknowledges that God is certainly capable of teaching, correcting and exhorting others without your help. Again, that doesn’t mean you’re to remove yourself from God’s movement in others’ lives, but it does imply that sometimes the Holy Spirit elects to use someone or something other than you to build up your neighbor. Many times when we try to force our solution or act outside of God’s order on this point we can do more damage than good.
4. The humble acknowledge when they’re wrong
Acknowledging that you’re wrong when you’re wrong is a simple yet elemental trait of a humble person. Not only that but also learning and growing from your mistake(s) is important. A humble person takes on their wrongdoing with full responsibility, not denying their flaw but accepting their fault. An even more humble person acknowledges their fault (publicly if necessary) and doesn’t make the same mistake again.
5. The humble don’t bask in “I told you so” moments
Following God and maturing in your faith and your gifts will likely accompany times when you’re accurate, correct, or right in your thinking and doing. There will also come times when you’re right and your neighbor won’t listen, only to realize later that you knew better. In this moment of choice you have the opportunity to either be humble or proud. Pride would have you expose your neighbor, essentially digging for a confession that you were indeed right and they were wrong. But exposure and exploitation is rarely an act of love, rather pure love always exhibits humility. And let it be a rule of thumb that loving people always trumps being right or being recognized as right.
“…loving people always trumps being right or being recognized as right.”
6. The humble don’t need to be understood or explained
Simply put, humble people care not about their reputation. People obsessed with their reputation are usually obsessed with themselves, and narcissism is humility’s polar opposite. This also applies with the need to be understood and well represented. I’m sure we have all been taken out of context and misunderstood. Who hasn’t? Think about Jesus’ many misunderstandings, the biggest of which led Him to the cross; the Savior of the world mistaken for a heretic, by the very people He came to save. Can you think of a more extreme case in your life? The fact is, it’s nice to be understood since we are relational beings, but we shouldn’t require it nor let it consume us when we aren’t.
I’ll end with a classic phrase from Jesus in Luke 22:42, which defines humility well for our sake. Facing a brutal death, preceded by a vicious beating, and in preparation to shoulder the sin of the world, Jesus prays to the Father on the Mount of Olives: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Here we see the very example of humility, the Son of God, submitting even in the face of treachery, to the author of all things. So, having Christ within you, can you say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to God today? Is it possible, even when you’re misunderstood, your reputation is at stake, or you happen to be right, to concede to God’s will, and not your own?
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org