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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

by Jim Gordon

Philippians 2:3-7 – Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

In today’s world, it seems everyone has the ‘I am number one’ attitude. We are all interested in what is best for us, what makes us happy, how to be more comfortable and satisfied in our lives. Seems like we will do anything we can to get ahead in life, and to get all the comforts and ‘things’ that make it easier for us.

These above verses state that as followers of Christ, we should be doing just the opposite. Our thoughts and attitudes should be how we can show the love of God to others. It should be what can we do to encourage and build up those in need, how can we use the money God has blessed us with to help the less fortunate.

God says that as his followers, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as ourselves. While the jobs and ‘things’ we have been given and blessed with by God are not wrong, we need to keep in mind that they are not the important part of our lives. We are to be thinking of others and their need for love, acceptance and help. We should focus on how we can encourage and build up someone else, and how can we help meet a need in their life.

There is nothing wrong with taking thought of our wants, needs and interests. The verse states ‘do not merely look out for your own interests’. Unfortunately, many times our own interests are all that concern us. May we daily ask that God helps us to think of others and be ready to care for them in any way possible that will show them the love of God.

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by Rocky Glenn

When James Hunter mirrored the skills of leadership listed in The World’s Greatest Leadership Principle: How To Become A Servant Leader to Paul’s attributes of love from 1 Corinthians 13, he provided more than simply how to be a great leader. He spelled out practical ways of showing love and provided insight on being a great human. When I first set out to detail each of the skills here, I naturally thought the eight traits would divide into four posts of two skills each. However, as I begin studying them more, the breakdown I’ve used seem to fall off the pages right before me.

As I’ve stated in each post, Hunter’s ultimate definition of love is the act of extending yourself for others by identifying and meeting their legitimate needs and seeking their great good. Patience and kindness are the first traits listed and are the first steps on the road to extending oneself. For most of us, patience and kindness come rather easily, at least externally, as we always strive to show our best face to strangers and others we seek to hide our true selves from. The act of extending was further displayed as we then discussed humility, respect, and selflessness. These three skills provide the motivation to allow us to be patient and kind as the more aware we become of treating others with respect and seeing we are human and all the same the more patience and kindness flow naturally from us. I truly believe the last three skills discussed cause the greatest extension of ourselves when practicing love.

To once again borrow the words of C. S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Extending yourself makes you vulnerable. In other words, to love is to be open to hurt. These last three skills guide us in dealing with hurt.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is defined as letting go of resentment. It’s one of the most important character skills for a person to possess: because people are human and will make mistakes, a lot of them. Your spouse, your kids, your parents, your boss, your coworkers, your teammates are going to screw up and let you down. We must be willing to accept limitations in others and develop the capacity to tolerate imperfection. The skill of letting go of resentment that lingers when people have hurt us, falsely accused us, threw us under the bus, and generally let us down is not about being passive or letting people get away with bad behavior or pretending the bad behavior is acceptable. Forgiveness involves going to people and communicating how what have done has affected you, dealing with it, letting go of any lingering resentment. Resentment destroys the human personality. Harboring resentment, seeking revenge, and obsessing about what others have done to us often causes us to become spiteful and hateful. When our pride and feelings are hurt, we justify not letting people off the hook.

Hunter explains forgiveness occurs when we separate people from behavior. We all do bad things but aren’t necessarily bad people. Are we as willing to let others off the hook as easily as we do ourselves? I was once told by a man I loved dearly, “Rock, we only accuse others of what we are capable of doing ourselves.” I hated hearing those words. I refused to admit the judgments I made mentally against others were only because I had the ability to do the exact the same things. Then the words of Paul is his letter to the Romans wafted through my thick head, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Honesty

Honesty is simply being free from deception. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Trust is built by behaving with honesty, it requires effort, and comes through communication of listening and speaking. One major aspect of honesty which is rather difficult is accountability. Failure to hold people accountable for their actions is deceptive and is not living up the responsibility of helping others be the best they can be and provides the false illusion that everything is okay. Dishonesty and deception take root in our heart as unforgiveness is allowed to dwell. Gandhi stated, “One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.”

Commitment

Commitment is defined as sticking to your choice. Practicing the skill of love requires commitment and passion for personal continuous improvement as well as a passion for doing what you say you are going to do, following through on promises, and finishing what you started. Commitment is about being loyal to people on the team and being there for others when they fail or when they need your help. It’s not about blind loyalty – doing the right thing always trumps loyalty. Commitment is having the moral courage to do the right thing regardless of friendships or alliances, even if its unpopular or comes with personal risk. Moral courage is the resolve to subordinate anything that gets in the way of doing the right thing. When all is said done, that right thing is always love.

Forgiveness, honesty, and commitment require vulnerability. To be vulnerable is to be capable of being physically or emotionally wounded and possibly open to attack or damage. It’s not a popular idea today to love to the extent of being vulnerable and possibly exposing yourself to hurt; however, as Paul reminds us in the closing of his famous words on the subject, “Love never fails.”

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by Rocky Glenn

In The World’s Greatest Leadership Principle: How To Become A Servant Leader James Hunter defines love as the act of extending yourself for others by identifying and meeting their legitimate needs and seeking their great good.  We’ve looked at Hunter’s classification of love as a skill as it requires repeated practice, but what does it mean to extend yourself?  Extend means stretch longer or wider to cover a larger space.  In the previous post, we looked at how this extension begins with patience and kindness.  The next three traits require we stretch ourselves further in developing the true skill of love.

Humility

Humility is defined as displaying an absence of pride, arrogance, and pretense.  It is often mistaken as weakness and having a “poor pitiful me” complex.  However, true humility keeps things in perspective knowing its strengths and weaknesses and recognizing all are capable of mistakes.  It produces authenticity as humble people know who they really are, they keep their egos in check, and allow space for uncertainty and the opinions of others, even if contrary to their own.  Because they know they don’t have all the answers, and they’re okay with it, they don’t take themselves too seriously and are even able to laugh at themselves.  In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis describes humility as follows:

To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

This past weekend, the family and I took the opportunity to view A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood which is based on a journalist’s interactions with Fred Rogers for his article assignment.  In the first phone conversation between the two, Fred makes the following statement, “Do you know what the most important thing in the world is to me right now?  Talking on the phone with you.”  This interaction embodies the words of C. S. Lewis above.  To use the definition of love from James Hunter, humility extends itself by taking an interest in others in the moment as it happens.

Respect

Respect is simply treating people like they are important or like they matter.  Genuine respect is felt when originating from a truly humble person.  Being respectful of others includes treating even those we consider insignificant or find challenging with the same consideration of those we consider important or of great stature.  A common misconception about respect is that it must be earned.  Hunter points out respect is not earned, it is given.  I am a systems guy who loves spreadsheets, calculations, and data analysis.  When faced with a decision, I’ve often created pro and con lists both mentally and physically.  Hunter reminds us respect is not earned based upon a spreadsheet tallying someone’s positives and negatives but should be given based simply on the fact of being human and because everyone is important even when we judge someone as behaving poorly or undeserving.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, all major U. S. airline companies reported a loss in the third quarter except one.   The employees of Southwest Airlines organized a giveback effort to contribute a portion of their paycheck back to the company to keep it afloat.  What would cause employees to make such a decision for their employer?  Although he had stepped down six months before the dreadful event of that day, twenty-year CEO Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines had created a culture within his company: “A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.”  This attitude of love and respect was not something Kelleher developed overnight but was instilled in him at an early age by his mother who taught him “that positions and titles mean absolutely nothing.  They’re just adornments; they don’t represent the substance of anybody . . . She taught me that every person and every job is worth as much as any other person and any other job.”

Boxing great Muhammad Ali described respect this way, “I don’t trust anyone who’s nice to me but rude to the waiter. Because they would treat me the same way if I were in that position.”

Selflessness

Selflessness is defined as meeting the needs of others and requires giving of yourself.  It finds its home in the willingness to set aside one’s wants and needs in seeking the greatest good for others and putting others before yourself.  Selflessness is an impossibility without humility and respect.  C. S. Lewis also captured the heart of selflessness in his further words on humility: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”  The nature of selflessness is what allows us to extend ourselves to cover wide spaces others may be unwilling or even unable to cover and cross.

In conclusion, referring once again to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he reminds them of these three traits of love with the following:

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.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Paul explains this mindset is displayed in the attitude and life of Jesus.  Hunter lists no greater example than Jesus of love and servant leadership.

So, how does this play out in our daily lives?  Do you consider yourself humble, respectful, and selfless?  How do you handle interruptions in your daily tasks or routines?  I’ve written previously of my struggles in this area and room for practicing each of these skills.  Remember, love is not a feeling and not based on our feelings but is a choice we make and exhibit through our behaviors.

On a humorous note, and just to end with a chuckle, I’ve always considered traffic quite a transparent scenario to examine oneself in displaying these qualities.  How selfless are you when in a hurry and others simply won’t get out of the way?  How much humility and respect do you show to drivers who insist on waiting to the last minute to merge or simply refuse to yield?

I’ll be the first to admit I need more practice on each of these skills.

Rocky

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by Rocky Glenn

I recently shared a trio of posts from 2017 detailing Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  Unbeknownst to me in late September as I was meditating upon Paul’s words and what I had previously written, I was about to embark on a nine to twelve-week training with my company which would cause further reflection on the famous passage.  As part of my employers’ ongoing and relentless commitment to the personal betterment of their staff both professionally and personally, we have been on a journey through James C. Hunter’s The World’s Greatest Leadership Principle: How To Become A Servant Leader.  Hunter concludes leadership skills and character development are one and the same.  He builds his writing upon a foundation of the most sought-after leadership skills mirroring the same attributes of love described by Paul and therefore devoted the largest chapter of the book to detailing and defining each of these characteristics.

I was honored to be selected to present this chapter to the staff and discovered Hunter’s words to be some of the most practical applications of love I’ve yet to find.  If truly applied and practiced, I believe the qualities and skills he details can impact not just one’s workplace, but every relationship, interaction, and encounter we experience in life.

Depending on one’s personal preference of scripture version, the exact terms listed by Paul may vary although the meanings remain.  Due to this, for simplicity’s sake we will define the eight attributes of love as the leadership skills Hunter lists:

Patience – Kindness – Humility – Respect

Selflessness – Forgiveness – Honesty – Commitment

Before examining each of these, it’s important to understand a key distinction of love Hunter declares in his writing and why it is considered a skill.  Love is not about feelings, it is about how we behave.  While feelings have the power to influence decisions and behaviors, they have nothing to do with the choices we make to practice the qualities listed above.  According to C. S. Lewis, “Love in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion.  It is a state not of feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.” Notice how Lewis embodies the words of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves.  He points out love is a matter of will we have naturally about ourselves and should choose to have towards others.  These words of Jesus, recorded as the second greatest commandment, have been etched in my brain from an early age, but Hunter’s determination of love being a skill shines a light on the command I’ve yet to see until this point in my life. Feelings have no effect on our skills and therefore should have nothing to do with the choice to remain kind, respectful, forgiving, and committed.  By definition, skill is the ability to do something well, based upon one’s knowledge and practice.  As followers of Jesus, we should be known as those who love well and therefore love should be a skill in which we are most proficient as we practice patience, kindness, humility, respect, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and commitment.

In his book, Hunter embodies the words of both Jesus and Lewis in defining love as the act of extending yourself for others by identifying and meeting their legitimate needs and seeking their great good.  In simple terms, love is as love does.  It’s of little use for me to make a claim of loving someone if I do not embody the skills of love.

Love looks like Patience.

Love looks like Kindness.

Love looks like Humility.

Love looks like Respect.

Love looks like Selflessness.

Love looks like Forgiveness.

Love looks like Honesty.

Love looks like Commitment.

The journey through Hunter’s book has been an unexpected experience.  Previous leadership books I’ve read have done little more than provide how to lists of being a better leader while causing reflection upon those I may have once reported to and making determinations of I will or will not be like them.  Servant leadership, as described by Hunter, becomes more of a mirror into one’s own life reflecting what is truly present or may be lacking in efforts to become not just a better leader, but a better person.

Over the next few weeks, I will take a closer look at each of these skills and discuss them in greater detail sharing more of Hunter’s thoughts.  I will note, however, this discussion is not in efforts of making a to do list or checklist for the sake of proving whether one is loving.  It’s simply to share a new glimpse of love which has given me pause and made me consider my own behaviors towards others regardless of what I may be feeling.   Love is not about feelings, it’s about how we behave.

Rocky

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by Rocky Glenn

Snobs are people who look down on other people.  With the recent election season concluding this past week, I am near certain if any of the candidates running for office were point-blanked questioned, “Are you a snob?  Do you consider yourself better than others?” each candidate would answer with a resounding, emphatic, “No!”  However, the campaign ads, speeches, debates, and rallies polluted the air with such a vast amount of pretentiousness, arrogancehaughtinesscondescension, and flat-out disrespect one would be hard pressed to describe the entire season as something other than a season of snobbery!!  Social media feeds were abuzz on election day not with celebrations of elections won but simply of the fact the negativity, mud-slinging, and posturing would be finally, at least momentarily, fading from the public eye.

Snobbery could be best be defined as a lack of humility.  Humility is freedom from pride or arrogance.  Although deficiencies in humility may perhaps be most prevalent and easiest to identify in the political realm, the lack thereof can be found nearly any where.  The greatest cause of snobbery and lack of humility I believe is comparison.  We live life constantly comparing ourselves to others to see how we measure up.  Even those who would deny their own personal snobbery and claim humility are susceptible to the quick sand of comparison.  I’ve never been one to intentionally display arrogance or intentionally be disrespectful to anyone, but in my former life mentally measuring my attitudes, behaviors, and activities against those shown by others was a constant way of life.  Living in such a manner is a life of constantly judging others and determining if either it’s someone you are better than or someone you should aspire to be.  It’s a life of false humility.  There may be no outward manifestations of the mental courtroom in which you personally try each person you encounter, but nonetheless each person stands before the judge in your head as you determine their value, your value in comparison to theirs, and exactly where each of you stand in regards to each other and, of course, who may be closer to God.

I shared in my last post for the first time in my life I know who I am and I am comfortable in my own skin.  The irony in that statement is for all intents and purposes to most I encounter I’m the same person and they would never know there’s anything different.  The difference lies in realizing good enough doesn’t exist and I am human and so are you.  Once those realizations are made, the internal judging and comparison has come to an end.  There is no longer a separation of me versus you, us versus them, people I’m better than versus people I should strive to be.

Paul defines living in humility in Philippians chapter 2:

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

I began this post with a sentence from a daily email I received this week taken from the words of Frederick Buechner.  I would like to conclude with the entire passage I received:

Snobs are people who look down on other people, but that does not justify our looking down on them. Who can say what dark fears of being inferior lurk behind their superior airs or what they suffer in private for the slights they dish out in public?

Don’t look down on them for looking down on us. Look at them, instead, as friends we don’t know yet and who don’t yet know what they are missing in not knowing us.

May we all learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Rocky

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Philippians 2:3-7 – Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

In today’s world, it seems everyone has the I’m number 1 attitude. We are all interested in what is best for us, what makes us happy, how to be more comfortable and satisfied in our lives. Seems like we will do anything we can to get ahead in life, to get all the comforts and ‘things’ to make it easier for us.

These verses state that as followers of Christ, we should be doing just the opposite. Our thoughts and attitudes should be how we can show the love of God to others, what we can do to help those in need, how can we use the money God has blessed us with to help the less fortunate.

God says that the fulfillment of the Law is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and to love others as yourself. While the jobs and ‘things’ we have been given and blessed with by God are not wrong, we need to keep in mind that they are not the important part of our lives. We are to be thinking of others and their need for love, acceptance and help. How can we encourage and build up someone, how can we help meet a need in their life.

There is nothing wrong with taking thought of our wants, needs and interests. The verse states ‘do not merely look our for your own interests’. Unfortunately, many times our own interests are all that concern us. May we daily ask for God to help us think of others and be ready to care for them in any way possible with God’s leading.

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