“Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself, it means you think of yourself less.” Ken Blanchard
Ken Blanchard is sort of a founding father in management and leadership, having written over 60 books and having developed leadership models that have been used for decades. He had a gift for understanding leadership over management and that caring for others was most effective.
Why is it relevant to mention a leadership guru while discussing humility? Well, research published in the January 2014 issue of the Administrative Science Quarterly found that managers who exhibit traits of humility, such as seeking feedback and focusing on the needs of others, experienced better employee engagement and job performance. Research, studies, surveys, and more indicate that leaders who seek opinions, regularly reward employees, accept uncertainty (even the best leader doesn’t know everything), are honest, and who CARE have more joy. All of these traits can and should be applied in one’s personal life as well. What if we viewed ourselves as a leader in our home by practicing more humility?
As a wife, mom, Sailor, volunteer, friend and more, it has taken years for me to submit to this idea of being humble and I still fall short. Valuing others’ opinions when they don’t match mine; rewarding those I love– perhaps by telling my husband that I think he is the hardest worker I know, and I appreciate all the things he provides for our family; being honest with the people in my life even when a hard discussion must be had; caring so much for others God put in my circle, that sometimes they receive a blessing and I seemingly receive nothing; lastly, but most importantly, trusting God and allowing Him to work things out according to His will.
Nearly my entire adult life was spent in the military. I have worked for some of the best leaders and we began receiving leadership training immediately. It’s crucial to our mission to lead but almost more so, to follow. How can we be effective leaders if we don’t follow well? Following well requires humility and trust. The lines can easily be blurred when serving in this capacity because the hearts of service members are bold and warrior-like, yet they never believe what they do is for themselves. They give their heart and soul to our country and the brothers and sisters they serve with. They carry a proud but humble spirit as they do things no one else would do. Proud but humble? Is that possible?
Like many words, “proud” can take on numerous meanings based on the context of the conversation or statement. Proud can mean someone is showing excessive self-esteem which is highly unattractive and not what God desires. Or, sometimes, when we say we’re proud of something, we are saying we are overjoyed and grateful for an achievement. We are proud of our children or others who have worked hard for something. I believe the key in every action and word is understanding that all things are possible with God and by God. However, let’s not confuse proud with pride.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
A great example is what I’m experiencing now. I have been job searching like nobody’s business. I need and want to go back to work for many reasons and have applied to a variety of positions. Static is what I hear… I finally received some pre-screens but haven’t been hired. Initially I told God, “I can’t believe I’m not being hired, I have an outstanding resume, two degrees, and 20 years of honorable military service!” I thought it would be easy to find work, specifically what I want and where I want because wow, I had some accomplishments. I’m qualified for high paying positions and in “my” opinion shouldn’t have to start at the bottom. Didn’t I already do that 20 years ago? Geesh. God reminded me that I only am what I am by Him and though Him:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit,’ says the Lord God Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
Even though I wanted God’s will and direction, my instinct was to rely on my own efforts and skill set. I want to be where God wants me and to do what He wants me to do and that requires humility. The definition of humility is freedom from pride and arrogance. Ultimately all the degrees and skill sets in the world can’t prepare us for God’s calling. He will equip you and me. God’s very nature is to call the unworthy and unlikely to carry out His holy tasks: Noah a drunkard; Abraham an old man; Moses a stutterer; Rahab a prostitute; David an adulterer and murderer; and Paul a persecutor of Christians.
We need not worry about how or when, we just need to humbly say yes right now. Christine Caine speaks about this in her book, Unstoppable: “God has plucked you out of eternity, positioned you in time, and given you gifts and talents to serve him in this generation. Your race is now. This is your time in history.”
Mindy is a wife, mother, and retired Chief Petty Officer of the United States Navy. For more lessons in leadership, check out our Nehemiah study where you can listen as women discover how we can apply Nehemiah’s example in our own lives. You can listen to our podcast on iTunes, or listen through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio. You can also listen on our website where you will find the study guide available for download too.