Episode 1. Being Humble
These days, humility can be considered a sign of weakness. But think about it – would you rather be stranded on a desert island with someone who’s full of pride, or someone who’s humble? Turns …
If you were about to be stranded on a desert island and you had a choice to have one of two people with you which person would you choose, the proud one or the humble one?
So have you figured out which person you’d like to be stranded on that desert island with, the proud one or the humble one? It’s not a trick question. Sometimes we associate pride with strength, people who have power, people who have influence, people with leadership capabilities, those sorts of people are often the proud ones.
And why shouldn’t they be they have a lot to be proud of. Perhaps you’d be prepared to overlook their pride and take them as your companion onto that desert island just to get the benefits of their strengths and abilities, the sorts of strengths and abilities that could well get you off the desert island. Perhaps.
And humble people, often we associate humility with weakness, you know the loser, the person who doesn’t ever achieve anything much, never makes much out of their lives. Yeah most often we see humility as a sign of weakness and so perhaps you don’t want to take the humble person with you onto that desert island. Who knows how long you could be there, do you really want to be stuck on the island with a loser?
I’m just trying to sort out here what we think about pride and humility. What sort of person do we associate with pride or humility? And if the picture that I just painted of the proud person and the humble person are the sorts of pictures that you have in your head then I want to upset your apple cart today because the greatest leaders aren’t the proud ones, the greatest leaders are the humble ones. And the worse sort of non-achievers aren’t the humble ones, they’re the proud ones.
We’re chatting again today about what you and I can do to be more of a blessing to the people around us. If you’ve been able to join me over these past few weeks on the program you might remember that I was challenged a while back by a quote from a man in the UK called Dr Tayo Adeyemi which goes something like this. He said:
“You are either a blessing or a burden, an asset or a liability, a problem solver or a problem, the choice is yours.”
It cuts pretty close to the bone. Now none of us is a complete asset or a complete liability and none of us is a total blessing or a total burden, we all have things that we’re good at and things that we’re not so good at. We all need to rely on others to be able to do some of the things that we can’t do for ourselves and help them with the things that they’re not so strong at.
But as I’ve said before each one of us can quickly picture the faces of the people in our lives who are a real blessing and the people who are a real burden, the energy givers and the energy takers. Now we all like to think that we’re on the blessing/asset/problem solver side of that equation rather than the burden/liability/part of the problem side of it right?
And yet you and I both know we can always come up higher to be more of a blessing to others, there’s always room for us to be more of a blessing. And one of the ways we can be more of a blessing is to be humble rather than proud.
What exactly does that mean? What is pride? What is humility? Well my dictionary tells me that pride is that quality in a person of having an excessively high opinion of themselves and their own importance. Now granted it’s easy to do, the more powerful, the more important or the wealthy or the more competent you are. If you’re someone others perceive as being successful, well in your heart of hearts you have something to be proud about and so it’s easy to take that too far, to have an excessively high opinion of yourself.
But pride isn’t confined to those who have something to be prideful over, we’ve all met that person who’s totally hopeless at what they do and yet they behave as though they’re somehow God’s gift to the universe. Those people are just as much a pain in the neck as those who are competent and prideful.
So pride isn’t a mark of ability or competence, pride isn’t a mark of leadership and achievement necessarily, wherever you and I happen to be on the scale of achievement and ability, pride in our hearts causes us to perceive ourselves as being higher up that scale than we really are and people who do that can be a real pain in the neck, plain and simple.
Humility on the other hand is the complete opposite; it’s the quality of having a modest or low view of ones own importance. Now let’s just think about that, is that a good thing or is it a bad thing? Well sometimes it can be a bad thing, some people are insecure because they don’t have a good handle on their abilities and where they fit in. Now that’s not good, insecure people struggle in all sorts of ways but think about the person who has a good handle on their capabilities, they know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at.
And yet instead of having this over inflated view of themselves, a view that demands attention and demands the limelight, they’re equally content if people recognise their abilities or if people don’t. Instead of having an over inflated view of themselves and where they sit in the pecking order in relation to other people, they’re understated in their approach. They don’t have to show off, they’re content for the rest of us to encounter their abilities and wisdom and experience and then to make up our own minds.
Come on let’s be honest, those sorts of people are a mighty blessing aren’t they? They’re the sorts of people we really want to hang around and work with because, as we’d say where I come from, they’re not full of themselves.
Pride’s an ugly thing; pride actually causes people to stumble. Have a listen to this ancient bit of wisdom from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, chapter 11 and verse 2:
“When pride comes then comes disgrace but wisdom is with the humble.”
And again Proverbs chapter 16, verse 18:
“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Pride brings people unstuck. Pride leads to disgrace and destruction for two reasons. Firstly because when someone is full of pride, someone has this over inflated sense of importance, they’re going to do some stupid things out of their arrogance and those stupid things are going to have consequences.
And secondly, people full of pride alienate others so when they do run into trouble nobody’s there to help. We all take a big step backwards and let the proud person fall because we know that that’s what they deserve.
Humility on the other hand speaks of a quiet wisdom and maturity. We appreciate people who don’t have to thrust their status and their abilities under our noses. The quiet achiever who helps us along the way and doesn’t seek glory is a real blessing. When those sorts of people need a helping hand generally we all love to get in and help them because they deserve it. Why? Because they’ve been a blessing to us along our journey.
One of the ways you and I can be an incredible blessing to others is to be humble of heart instead of full of pride. Those sorts of people are a blessing, it’s exactly what the Apostle Paul said a thousand or so years after Solomon wrote those Proverbs when he was writing to his friends in Rome about understanding their natural giftings and abilities. Listen to this, Romans chapter 12 beginning at verse 3:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think but to think of yourself with sober judgement each according to the measure of faith that God’s assigned. For as in one body we have many members and not all the members have the same function, so we who are many are one in the body of Christ and individually we are members of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace that’s given to us.”
God made you who you are, He made me the person I am and He made the next guy the person they are. By His grace He gave each one of us certain abilities and not other abilities. He did that so we’d realise that we need to be part of a team, more about that another day.
And here are the crazy unexpected things that happen, two things actually, two of life’s most stunning paradoxes. Firstly when we humble ourselves to serve others the first thing that happens is that we’re blessed. Jesus was totally right when He said you’re more blessed when you give than you receive, it’s a great feeling and secondly the more we humble ourselves, this is crazy, the more we humble ourselves the more other people’s opinion of us goes up, the more exalted and valuable we become in their opinion the more treasured we become in their heart.
Humility, true humility, the sort of humility that Jesus showed by dying for you and me on that cross, that sort of humility is such a mighty blessing.