“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3
I find it puzzling that humility is such an overlooked quality when choosing people for leadership roles. Perhaps it’s because humble people, who otherwise may be quite capable, are mistakenly perceived as lacking such characteristics as conviction, courage, and self-confidence — in other words thought of as weak. Not necessarily so.
One of the most humble people I ever met was a guy named Arthur Hernandez. We were from neighboring small West Texas towns, and never got to know each other all that well except for the rare occasions our respective church youth groups got together for some event. Where I did get to know Arthur was competing in various sports in junior high school. What a bruiser he was on the football field, knocking me on my fanny more times than I can count. But that’s also where I experienced his humility; for no sooner would I hit the ground than I would see his hand extended to help me up, make sure I was okay, then slap me on the rear with a kind word of encouragement. As captain of his team Arthur never hesitated to challenge a referee’s call if in question, but in the most polite manner you can imagine, using words like “sir”, “please”, and “thank you”. And at the end of the game, win or lose, guess who was leading the charge to shake hands with the opposition? Courageous, capable, self-confident, decisive, yet humble — what an outstanding leader he was!
In his book, Give and Take, Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant sets out to explore how a person’s intentions impact his or her long-term success. Through his research he identifies three categories of people: Givers, those who are genuinely generous in their behavior; Takers, those who tend to be in it for themselves; and Matchers, those who often behave like givers but with a quid pro quo expectation. What he concludes is that while takers tend to jump ahead early on, and matchers know how to play the game, in the long run it is the givers who tend to rise to the top.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,” says the Apostle Paul, “but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” That’s what I’ll never forget about Arthur Hernandez from junior high school, who I have no doubt has risen to the top.