There is a common saying that once you declare you have mastered the value of humility; you no longer have it. This has influenced my understanding of humility, and my pursuit to be a humble individual. As St. Benedict of Nursia conveys, humility begins and ends with God himself (Bekker, 2008). It begins with the fear of the Lord always present in an individual’s mind, refraining from behavior not reflective of Christ, and a focus on an eternal relationship with the Father (Bekker, 2008).
For myself, and I believe for many others, the pursuit of humility runs hand in hand with the tension of confidence and pride. To be confident in one’s self is to be aware of one’s worth in the eyes of God, but not elevate one’s self over others (Phil. 2:3). Proverbs warn that with pride comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Pr. 11:2). So, living out scripture means not being prideful in one’s self, however, Benedict would argue that a lack of confidence leads to low self-esteem or defensive high self-esteem; these negatively impact overall leadership capabilities (Bekker, 2008). In pursuit of humility, one needs to develop the habits of listening and learning from others, approaching people with humility, and demonstrating deference and respect for the thoughts of others, even when there is opposing viewpoints (Terrell & Rosenbusch, 2013).
A struggle I have is overcoming the idea that humility means being a push-over. This is problematic as a valued child of God. As a child of God, we present strength as God does, but we present it in a quiet, confident way rather than a loud, boisterous way (Tannehill, 2012). Understanding this helps me understand what humility should look like as I pursue a better reflection of Christ on a daily basis.
Bekker, C. (2008). Leading with the Head Bowed Down: Lessons in Leadership Humility from the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia. Inner Resources for Leaders, vol. 1(iss. 3), pp. 1–10.
Tannehill, R. C. (2012). Acts of the Apostles and ethics. Interpretation, 66(3), 270–282.
Terrell, R. S., & Rosenbusch, K. (2013). How global leaders develop. Journal of Management Development, 32(10), 1056–1079. http://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-01-2012-0008