09 Jun 10 Traits of a Humble Person – A Leaders Guide
I was listening to a podcast this week, a podcast by Joyce Meyer and she was talking about humility. I’ve had a sticky note on my desk for months now that reads ‘humility before honour’ and I’ve been trying to frame it properly so that I can write about it. Joyce helped me do that.
Humility, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people. To be humble. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility)
I understood humility and I understood being humble or at least I thought I did, but I was struggling to make it make sense in terms of honour and how I would put it into practice. Because, who doesn’t want honour?
Joyce Meyer is a Christian author and speaker. Interesting to note she came to talk about humility because of a sermon she had listened to and felt compelled to share. Joyce talked about 10 character traits of a humble person which brought me back very clearly to my sticky note – humility before honour.
Number One – a humble person doesn’t find it hard to ask for help. Pretty clear, pretty straight forward. Listening to that I thought, well, I do that, I ask for help, I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it (most times). But, then she said, and they don’t insist that it be done their way. Ah, therein lies the rub. I ask for help, true. I don’t struggle asking for help most of the time, true. I don’t insist it be done my way, not so true. And all at once I was awakened to the realization that I was just kind of, sort of, humble. How humbling.
Number Two – a humble person is quick to forgive. Difficult to offend and glad to wait on God for vindication. This one was a bit more manageable for me, I forgive more quickly now than in my younger years and I think, or I hope I’m less easy to offend as I become more mature emotionally. I do get offended and sometimes it is not difficult. When things are very close to my heart I get offended easily and then I’m faced with forgiving quickly. Quick is relative, my quick may feel slow to someone who I am forgiving. Am I fast enough? The last part, waiting on God, well that’s a personal choice, a free will thing. I’ll leave that with you to decide.
Number Three – a humble person has patience and long suffering with the weaknesses of others. Okay, I thought, I have patience with some people, I can even give examples of when I was very tolerant and patient with people who were suffering or lost in the depth of a weak moment. But I suspect true humility requires a blanket clause, a uniform fair treatment of all. Again, I have more work to do.
Number Four – a humble person is a peace maker and a peace lover. A peace maker knows when to be quiet. A peace lover is confident in times when they don’t need to say anything. I like peace, I like to be a peace maker, but it is not likely my strength to be quiet or confident in saying nothing. And as Joyce continued on I started to realize that maybe I’m not that humble after all, because to be truly humble you would have to have all of these traits and practice them all the time. Maybe no one is humble?
Number Five – a humble person sees their own weaknesses and readily admits them. Ah ha! Finally, I have one nailed. I fully understand that I have strengths and things I am very good at, and I also have things that I am not even close to being good at, like waiting tables or calculus. But as I thought through this point and felt super about my willingness to share my flaws I wondered if perhaps I have flaws that I am not aware of and therefore don’t admit? Check mate.
Number Six – a humble person gives credit where credit is due. Now, this one I do, and I do well (see point number five). I take the effort and due credit of others very seriously. And I think this one is imperative for a foundation of trust within a relationship. I am not saying I have been a Rock Star at this my entire life, I am saying this is something I work at and pay attention to, this one I will continue to do. So far, one out of six. But who’s counting?
Number Seven – a humble person happily serves other people. Setting aside the waitress weakness I mentioned earlier, I can confess that I do this some of the time. For example, if my Father is visiting and asks for a glass of water I serve him happily. If my husband asks me to get him a drink of water, I immediately assess whether or not he is closer to the fridge and this fact checking causes a reaction you would not construe as happy. A humble person happily serves other people – it doesn’t say other people some of the time or some people other times. Its inclusive, it’s all encompassing, it’s everyone.
Number Eight – a humble person is very thankful and grateful. This is a skill. You can learn to be grateful and you can exercise thankfulness. When my husband and I were dating he started a gratitude journal that we would pass back and forth to each other after we’d written in it about something we were grateful for; it could be as simple as the sunshine or as complex as we wanted. It was one of the things that created a trust bond between us and laid the foundation for treating each other with kindness and appreciation. I like number eight, I work at number eight, and number eight is a win for me because I like the feeling I get when I’m grateful. How about you?
Number Nine – a humble person has a tender conscience and is very quick to repent. Well, I’m probably half way there on this one, I can concede to having a tender conscience but I don’t think I repent as quickly as I should. Truthfully, I find it hard to ask for forgiveness sometimes. Particularly when I liked what I did or felt vindicated in some way. But, we still injure others when we are right, we still injure others when we feel right, and we always injure others and ourselves when we are not right. Good directions, hard to implement.
Number Ten – a humble person treats everybody with respect and is good to everybody. Let me say that again – treats everybody with respect and is good to everybody. Joyce said number ten is for leaders; people who are in governance roles. But I believe they are all for leaders, they are all – for all, of us. If we even attempted to hit each of these ten traits in a day, a week or a month we might surprize ourselves at our own success. It must feel good to treat everybody fairly and equally. It must feel good to be forgiven. It must feel good to be given credit. It must feel good to be humble.
There are plenty of things on this list of ten that are not easy, like forgiving or being patient or admitting your weaknesses. Letting people help you the way they help, not the way you tell them to help.
And now humility before honour makes perfect sense. If you have and maintain all ten of these traits I believe you will find honour on the heels of your humility. I believe that honour comes from putting others before yourself. Can you think of a person that has had honour, earned honour, that hasn’t been humble? And the fact is, the quickest way to see if someone is humble or not is to take note of how they treat people. It’s also the quickest way to tell what kind of a leader they are – humility doesn’t hide and honour doesn’t come easy. Soldier on.