Wisdom in humility: Defining real humility

 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4

True humility is not an abject (worthless) , groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us.” Tyron Edwards

Humility as Jesus demonstrated
In his book “Less Is More Leadership” Dale Burke reveals ways in which leaders in their busy lives, and in all departments, that is, both in the church and businesses, can lead and still have a life. He points out how Jesus portrayed servant-leadership. In Mark 10:45 we read, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Out of all other character traits to avoid, pride is the one thing Jesus focused on.

In 1 Peter 5:6 it says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”

James 4:6 “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” quoting Proverbs 3:34

1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud

Humility does not weaken, it empowers
In today’s society humility is often associated with weakness, surrendering control or being a person’s “slave.” It’s no wonder it has little appeal in today’s world! Jesus, however, was a strong leader and did not display any sign of weakness at all. He made His own choices and He gained control. What this means is that servanthood does not mean passivity and doing whatever people want you to do.

Humility takes responsibility
There are a lot of times in schools and colleges, and virtually, everywhere where people at some point tend to be careless with their responsibilities. If something falls to the floor and it gets messed up or messes up the floor, people just pass by without taking initiative. Why not help someone out? Do them a favour? Does not everyone benefit from such small but significant deeds? Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” points out another good character trait of leader:

A great leader, in good times, goes to the window, and in bad times goes to the mirror. In good times he goes to the window and looks out the parking lot and he sees the cars, the employees, his team, and declares, “Wow, what a blessed leader I am to have these people working here! What a great job they’ve done. I’m so fortunate to serve alongside such gifted people.”
In bad times he goes to the mirror on the wall, looks at himself, and reflects, “Where did I go wrong? What did I miss? Why didn’t I see this coming? Shouldn’t I have at least anticipated this and tried to head it off?” He takes responsibility.

I believe that anyone, in their sphere of influence, in the domain God has put them in, can be an example with the application of these principles. In that regard they can be a leader. Even as an employee or student. According to the worldly standards, the mirror-window metaphor is used the opposite way. In good times  the leader goes the mirror and say, “Look at me. What a great job I am doing! The team is sure lucky to have me at the controls.” In bad times they went to the window and exclaimed, “Who messed up? Who should I replace or fire? Someone is to blame and I want to know who!” We should caution ourselves against such thinking! It’s not of the kingdom.

What humility does
Humility takes responsibility: Like in the metaphor, a leader examines himself before looking at a possible contributor to a problem.

Humility promotes objectivity: A leader is open to feedback. He realizes there’s nothing like “bad news” if it’s truth. He seeks it and accepts it.

Humility increases teachability: A humble leader listens and learns from people.

Humility stimulates creativity: A humble leader thinks outside the box and innovates. He has a “we can always do a better job” kind of attitude.

Humility expands flexibility: He adapts with the changes in the times. He flexes well with circumstances and people.

Humility boosts team morale: A humble leader is quick to pass praise on to others. He’s a great team player! This boosts team morale to new heights and the general performance of any business or team accelerates.

Humility fosters loyalty: People are drawn to leaders who are in it in the long run. Who seek to establish and maintain long-term relationships.

Humility pursues excellence: A leader always strives to develop and grow. Tony Gwynn was the first baseball player to win three consecutive championships since Stan Musial. Tony once said, “I really don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied. Once you think you’re where you want to be, you’re not there anymore.” I mentioned in the 5 ways to take baby steps in life post about Joyce Meyer saying, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”

In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul says, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press onto reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Humility brings balance: The humble leader trusts his team. They do not try to do everything themselves They can easily go home and leave the task to someone else knowing it’s in good hands. Why? It’s not about them.

Humility promotes and maintains relevance: The humble leader with the servant’s mindset, focuses continually on the needs of others. They always look for ways to best serve others. Feedback is the main key.

The problem with pride
Concerning this subject I would encourage you to read Sherline’s post,  The Importance Of Detecting False Humility. She beautifully outline’s the problems with people who try to further their agenda through their false pretense of humility, giving everyone the wrong impression. The vital thing to note is how to spot them so that you can both avoid them and refrain from possibly doing the same thing without realizing it.

Action steps for portraying humility
Hello– saying hello is very important. It may seem like a small thing but it shows how much you value someone. Plus it’s the easiest way to begin connecting with them.

Please– indicates respect. This is truly where a servant-heart is seen. Be careful though. Most people will not be able to tell but some can identify the real attitude behind the facade through the tone of voice. Here it both matters what you say and how you say it.

Thank you-states that you appreciate the help you were given and you valued the contribution. This can take you really far in life. In my 4 things that test your faith post I relay the crucial reasons why it’s a must to express gratitude.

Can I help? Expresses a need to serve. People feel loved the most whenever they are assisted. Even if it’s in a small way. The main aspect here, though, is a genuine heart. Meaning that you give without expecting anything in return. In my 7 reasons why it’s more blessed to give than to receive post, I stress how the motive behind the giving is where the impact takes place. Whether it’s positive or negative.

I’m sorry conveys sincerity. It just means that despite your good intentions in serving to the standard of excellence as often as possible, we fall short some times. This also exhibits honour and respect. The sad thing is that it’s not everyday that people confess their shortcomings, let alone acknowledge them! When you do, you communicate your desire to continue maintaining high standards, that it’s a process and how you intend to learn from your mistakes along the way.

NB: Though some of the points relate mostly to leaders, notice how a lot of them can be applied in day-to-day life.

Please comment your thoughts on this post.


  1. Wow I had to re-read this over and over again! Loved the Window -mirror and mirror-window analogy. I might have to share this one. It’s so weird that you wrote on this because we were just talking about this in my cell group yesterday. You really broke it down well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s