A Heart of Humility
A Heart of Humility
The workplace can often be a tough arena to actively share your Christian faith. As the themes of tolerance, acceptance and equality continue to expand in our culture, the principles of the Bible are often seen as too rigid. On top of that, Christians are often seen as judgmental and hypocritical. For today’s followers of Jesus, these conditions can influence the way we live out our faith. This is especially true when it comes to serving as a leader in the workplace. How can someone who desires to serve Jesus boldly also perform as a workplace leader in a way that glorifies the God? One place to begin is to adopt the mindset of humility as a core principle in how you lead. Humility is at the heart of the Christian faith but it also has an impact on the success of a leader.
Historically, humility was not a celebrated character trait in the workplace. When I entered the workforce in the 1990s, the top business books at the time covered topics like organizational reengineering, improving productivity, and studies on best practices of top companies. The ‘90s also poked fun at corporate America (e.g., the Dilbert comics). There was tension between companies and their employees so softer skills like humility were kept quiet. Only in the past decade has this influential trait risen in popularity in leadership circles, but God knew it long before our culture caught up.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Jeremiah, God repeatedly confronts Israel on their lack of humility and the terrible impact it had on their lives. In the New Testament, Paul writes about its importance repeatedly in his letters including Philippians and 1 Corinthians. In many cases, he leans on Old Testament writings to get to the same conclusion. Humility is essential to the life of a follower of Jesus.
Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. In Philippians 2:5–8, Paul writes, “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. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (NASB). He provides clear instructions to the church: be humble, just as Jesus was humble. We must strive to serve others and live the way God calls us to live in humility. Humility reflects strength and allows a person to be shaped by God rather than their own naturally selfish ways. It is critical for dealing with people. If we can embrace it, we will be in a stronger position to lead the way Jesus intended.
In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni presents three virtues that make some people better team players than others. His conclusions are research based and presented in a straight forward and highly engaging way. However, the principles also translate well to virtues of great leaders. The three concepts he presents are people smarts, hunger, or a desire to achieve, and humility. Leaders that embrace humility and pursue leading with a humble heart are making a greater impact than ever.
Humility begins with fully depending on God, looking to Him for wisdom, guidance and direction on a daily basis. Too many people look to God in the morning or on Sunday’s, then spend the rest of the time relying on themselves. The wisdom and power of Jesus is available to His followers all day, every day. Humility also is grounded in whose interests we are seeking to serve. The humble at heart seek to serve those around them, those on their teams, and everyone they come in contact with. Just as Jesus emptied Himself for the sake of others, we are all challenged with that same approach.
Although humility is a more celebrated trait in the workplace today, selfishness, narcissism, and greed are still prevalent in many offices. Humility offers a profound way to demonstrate to the world that there is something different in you. It is an attractive difference that often prompts others to ask questions. When that happens, doors begin to open to express our faith more fully with the people around us.
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