Barry struggles with confidence. When he’s not sure what to do, his first instinct is to run. He often expresses his frustration by saying, “I’m going to quit.”
Barry often makes decisions where trying to manage other people’s perceptions of him trumps doing the right or best thing. His lack of confidence limits his leadership effectiveness.
Jenna suffers from a lack of humility. She usually relates to others—her husband, her children, and other ministry leaders—by being controlling, demanding, and critical. She gains a sense of significance by being the helper, advice-giver, and rescuer in relationships.
When the pastor of the church where Jenna was on staff spoke with her about how her behavior was hurting other people, she got defensive. Eventually, he asked her to work with a counselor. She claimed she was being persecuted by her pastor, so resigned and left the church rather than work on her behavior.
Like Barry, many people have too little confidence, low-self-esteem. Like Jenna, many people are arrogant. They think too highly of themselves. And a healthy self-image is halfway between. Or so I thought–for many years. But decades of observing leader has shown me that’s wrong. Rather, the best leaders are both humble and confident.
Humility is more interested in hearing others’ stories than in telling one’s own.
Confidence doesn’t need to focus on self so delights in focusing on others.
Humility takes more delight in crediting others than in receiving credit.
Confidence doesn’t need the spotlight so loves to turn the spotlight on others.
Humility thrives on collaborative decision-making.
Confidence is not threatened by strong leaders, but surrounds itself with and collaborates with strong leaders.
Humility takes responsibility for mistakes and is quick to make amends.
Confidence doesn’t need to be right all the time, because self-worth isn’t rooted in being right.
Humility invites and values feedback and critique.
Confidence invites and values feedback and critique.
Humility is motivated by the mission, not by personal advancement, achievement, or recognition.
Healthy confidence lives to please God, not people.
Far from being its opposite, humility grows out of the soil of healthy confidence.
Scripture expresses the humility/confidence balance this way: “By myself I can do nothing” (John 5:30, NIV). “I can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13, KJV).
Years ago one of my ministry heroes approached me about writing a book with him. I was excited, but wondered, “Am I getting in over my head?” After three days I heard God say, “You just say yes. I’ll take responsibility for the success of the work.” That day God showed me a picture of confident humility.
- Of the characteristics of humility listed, how many characterize your life?
- Of the characteristics of confidence listed, how many characterize your life?
- Are there one or two areas where God is calling you to grow?
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