Only Proud People Use Humility

Proud Humility

I popped into a Twitter chat about leadership and humility last night. One of the questions posed was this:

“Is humility technique or character?”

One of the folks in the chat loosely defined humility as a “tool” to be “used.” In essence, humility is a crescent wrench in the leader’s proverbial toolbox. I don’t like this idea. I don’t like it one bit. Starting with the definition of the word, here’s why.

humility – (n.) A modest or low view of one’s own importance

By Definition, Humility is Character

  • Humility is a quality; an essence of being.
  • It recognizes who you are as opposed to what you do.
  • It is a description, not an action.

Humility Can’t Be a Skill or Technique

  • Humility is not something you can pick up and use when the mood strikes you.
  • Humility is not a methodology that you can intellectually learn.
  • You can’t sit down and build up your humble “chops.”

Who Would Even Try to “Use” Humility?

A proud person would.

This is my main beef with the idea of using humility as a tool or a technique. Only a prideful person would walk into a situation wondering what level of humility to “use.” A truly humble leader wouldn’t come close to having that thought.

A humble leader would just walk into the room and be who they already are.

Are you in a position where you’re discerning between times to be prideful and times to be humble? If so, you’re heading for a world of hurt. Humble leaders slowly build great organizations. Proud leaders quickly destroy them.

But Isn’t Pride a Virtue?

No, but we were all raised to believe that it is. As Augustine would put it, ”Pride is the mother of all sin.” It is the antithesis of humility. Humility says “I love you.” Pride says “I love me.“ Which do you think will lead to a healthier life?

Pride is the rabid enemy of love, whereas humility is the epitome of love. Great leaders create, cultivate, and inspire love in people’s lives. This is the reason why they become great. To be proud is to be unloving.

I’ll show you how by closing with our favorite definition of love…

1 Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 4-7 NIV (Commentary in bold)

Love is patient. Pride is always in a hurry.

Love is kind. Pride is cruel if need be.

[Love] does not envy. Pride wants what it does not have.

[Love] does not boast. Pride drives us to puff ourselves up.

[Love] is not proud. Pride is not love.

[Love] does not dishonor others. Pride seeks to tear others down.

[Love] is not self-seeking. Pride seeks the glorification of self.

[Love] is not easily angered. Pride is hot-tempered and easy to rile.

[Love] keeps no record of wrongs. Pride is always keeping score.

Love does not delight in evil. Pride does not hesitate to do evil.

[Love] rejoices with the truth. Pride rejoices in lies.

[Love] always protects. Pride always destroys.

[Love] always trusts. Pride is always suspicious.

[Love] always hopes. Pride is always in despair.

[Love] always perseveres. Pride always leads to death.

A Pastoral Post-Script

The default mode of my heart is pride, so I understand this struggle intimately. I’m begging you to fight alongside me. We must not look at humility as a tool to be used, but an ideal to be passionately pursued by God’s grace.

I’m begging each of you who would read this to set aside your pride and become a humble, loving leader. I promise you, your example will touch more people than you can imagine.

If you’d like an example of what humility looks like, click here.

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  • http://websitesgiveback.com/blog/ Elena Patrice

    One of my favorite posts (if not my favorite!) from you Kenny! Powerful, relevent words here and something to really reflect on. Pride most definitely leads the way to all other sins. Humility can be so utterly beautiful that it can hurt our eyes and for me, the privilege of being in the presence of such humility leaves me in awe.

    You bless many with your wisdom and heart … thank you!

    Much kindness,

    Elena

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Elena. Pride is a sneaky devil and it leads to so much trouble. One of the things I am so grateful for is God’s grace in helping me shed my pride. Without Him, I would be completely lost in it.

  • Anonymous

    Good blog; good thoughts. I think humility can be used by anyone, not just the proud. It can be used as a tool of manipulation. Those who have pride and a great deal of self-confidence probably can use it more easily.
    However, I do not think this negates it being a character trait, as well. If it is truly part of our basic character, I think we would be loathe to use it for manipulation of others. If it is really a part of our integrated nature, then we would put our pride aside for the benefit of others. But, it is only with God’s help that we can keep these things in their proper perspective.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      My main point was that the “use” of humility as a tool for manipulation, gain, deceit, etc. IS the mark of a prideful person. Yes, you can employ skills, tactics, and techniques that resemble humility, but they are never truly humble because they come from a prideful place.

      A wolf can dress in sheep’s clothing and graze in the pasture with the other sheep. At the end of the day, he’s still a wolf and he’s still up to something other than feeding those sheep. Humility as a tool is simply sheep’s clothing… in my humble opinion. ;)

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/jimweible Jim Weible

    Very well said. Humble leaders slowly build great organizations. Proud leaders quickly destroy them. I like the contrast of slowly and quickly alongside the contrast of humble and proud. It helped me understand another perspective and see a different way to discern tendencies toward pride. Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/jimweible Jim Weible

    Very well said. Humble leaders slowly build great organizations. Proud leaders quickly destroy them. I like the contrast of slowly and quickly alongside the contrast of humble and proud. It helped me understand another perspective and see a different way to discern tendencies toward pride. Thanks for the post.