Inspiration: How Humility Lifts Those Around Us, Part 1 (Strategic Christian Leadership #72)

I am Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, and this is the “Strategic Christian Leadership” Podcast, Episode 72. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help Christian leaders understand how planning and strategizing is important to carrying out the Great Commission.

Our Bible verse for this episode is 2 Chronicles 1:10-12 which says, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

Our quote for this episode is from John F. Kennedy, who said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine books: “Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders” by Aubrey Malphurs, “Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less” by Dave Browning, and “Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership” by John Dickson.

Our topic today is part 1 of “Inspiration: How Humility Lifts Those Around Us” from “Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership” by John Dickson. He continues as follows:

I used to suppose that highlighting achievements and status is a key to inspiring those who look up to us. There is a real truth here. Most people like to have heroes. Most appreciate being led (well). So there is, as the former head of Australian Special Forces Jim Wallace puts it, “a natural momentum in favour of the leader.” Watching Brian Robson, former captain of Manchester United, inspired me to train most afternoons after school. Listening to U2 and watching them perform live numerous times was a powerful motivator to take up a musical career. Reading the books and listening to the lectures of Paul Barnett, a local Australian scholar, was one of the reasons I turned to historical studies. Inspiration does come from those whose achievement we greatly admire. I don’t dispute that greatness encourages greatness.

But these statements are inadequate on their own. I have come to believe that achievement and status alone are not where true inspiration is found. It is when our heroes are humble that they most inspire.

To offer a small personal example: four years ago my daughter took up netball, a hugely popular sport in Commonwealth countries that looks like a cross between basketball and European handball. One day during my daughter’s first season I happened to be in the same Qantas airport lounge as the Australian netball team, fresh from a game against New Zealand. I ripped out a piece of paper, reminded myself they would never see this fawning father again and nervously approached the team, including the famous Liz Ellis, the most capped player in Australian history who captained the country to victory at the 2007 World Championships. I told them my Sophie had just started playing the game and asked for autographs. The response was wonderful. They quickly set me at ease, introduced me around the other players and filled the page with signatures and a little message of encouragement.

When I arrived home Sophie loved it. The page was quickly framed and hung on her bedroom wall. It was inspiring, not just for me as an eager Saturday morning spectator but also for her. Sophie is now—and I’m afraid there’s no humble way to put this—quite a little star in her own right, playing in the State representative competition. Of course, it would be stretching things to draw a straight line between Liz Ellis’s signature four years ago and Sophie’s quick movement up the netball grades. But this seemingly minor kindness from Sophie’s sporting heroes did cause a lift in her feeling for the game.

True greatness is marked by a thousand small courtesies like this. The inspiration of heroes and leaders is only enhanced by their willingness to take an interest in others and to talk about things other than their achievements. I note in passing that one of Liz Ellis’s two “people most admired”, according to her website, is Sir Edmund Hillary. I wonder if it was his famously humble attitude as much as his conquest of Everest that has inspired Ellis herself.

As I mentioned in chapter 1, in recent years business leaders are emphasizing the same thing: humility in leadership seems to have a marked positive influence on individuals and organizations. Jim Collins’s famous “Level 5 Leader” is a truly odd beast. Level 4 leadership is what we normally associate with big-time executives. This “effective leader”, Collins says, “catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision stimulating higher performance standards.”

But all eleven companies that managed to outperform the market by three times over a fifteen-year period—the good-to-great companies—were led by a different individual (and culture) entirely. The Level 5 Executive “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”2 In interview after interview, Collins says, the humble character of these steely-willed leaders was clear, not just in their interactions with Collins’s research team but, perhaps more importantly, in the research team’s discussions with employees. Independently of each other and in different ways, workers close to the executive would report how he was unassuming or always courteous or asked questions of others or put the firm’s interests above their own. Humility, in other words.

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— PRAYER —

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless.

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Strategic Christian Leadership

The simple purpose of this podcast is to help Christian leaders understand how planning and strategizing is important to carrying out the Great Commission.

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