“Trust and safety go hand in hand. How safe do we feel with each other?
Are we authentic and open?
Do we place the most difficult and important issues and questions on the table…
Trust ignites safety and togetherness.”
If trust and safety are a couple of the tires on a mission driven organization, humility is going to be the fuel in the vehicle.
What is humility and where can we find it? Well, I believe the essence of humility is found in the life of Jesus and the Apostle Paul exhorts believers to mimic Christ:
“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. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
– Philippians 2:3-8
Three times in this passage we see the word “humble.” Why is humility so important? Because anything else stands in the way of our relationship with Jesus and with others. If we are to give witness to the Light and Hope that has come into the world, we must not cast our own shadows to distract from its brilliance.
This is not a humility of thinking less of ourselves, but as Tim Keller says, a “thinking of ourselves less.” He says, “the thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
If I can stop anchoring every experience and every conversation back to myself, and instead look upward to Christ – I can then experience the hope, the peace, the joy that otherwise evades me. This is just as true for a mission driven organization such as a family, church, workplace, school, etc.
There are a few stories I don’t normally share, but I want to share one that will shed light on this. Working with at-risk kids in my life, there have been a few instances where I have been falsely accused of something. I have been placed on administrative leave as an investigation is done. I cannot even begin to express the hardship associated with such investigations – it is painful in every way.
Each of these situations ultimately revealed things about me and my calling and purpose in my life that, although difficult to walk through, has helped shape me in becoming the man and leader I am today.
If I moved through all of the painful events in my life, without Christ, I could come to the wrong conclusions and arrive at the end of these experiences with bitterness, resentment and without forgiveness. My hope is not in how I arrive at the end of my destination. My hope has to rest in the truth and redemption of an empty tomb. If Christ can humble Himself in obedience in God, so must I. So must we.
I cannot know true hope if I do not humble myself. I cannot humble myself if I don’t understand that brokenness and suffering are gifts and the pathway to humility and ultimately hope.
I know there are many aspects of suffering and challenges all of us have had to endure personally but as we walk through these things personally it shapes the “organizations” in which we are participants in. Our ability to grow in wisdom by humbling ourselves shapes our culture and our attitudes especially in our homes where our children are ever watching and ever repeating. It impacts our co-workers and staff. It shapes those in our pews and fellowship halls.
The initial questions offered at the beginning of this post are great questions to ask around your dinner table, in a church staff meeting, in a board room, and as you ask these questions take on the attitude of Christ: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, think of others as better than yourself. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others…”