We are born with a desire to want more power than we have. Every healthy child fights for more power and control from little on. So, loving power less just isn’t a part of our nature. All of us have seen the abuse of power. It spans a wide spectrum from CEO’s, celebrities, pastors, political leaders, police officers, coaches, university presidents to convenience store managers. We all lean toward gaining more power in situations. Pride and ego are more common than we admit.
One of my most favorite leadership books is by Jim Collins, Good to Great. The book reveals commonalities of companies that have moved from good to great. Collin’s research revealed five ingredients. One of those five is having a Level 5 leader who has a strong blend of humility with intense professional will. In contrast, Collins followed up with a sequel, How the Mighty Fall. His book revealed that decline always started from “Hubris born of success.” Arrogant neglect. Nothing more to learn. Entitlement. Pride.
Pride is jacked up ego. But pride is hard to see. It is like something dark, hidden in the dark. The best way to see pride is to turn on the light of humility. The contrast is stunning…the humble heart vs. the prideful heart. Dr. Tim Irwin echoes Jim Collins when he wrote the book, Derailed. Extreme arrogance moves one toward derailment. Humility keeps us on the tracks toward long-term success.
A first century writer and catalyst leader across the Middle East and Europe was known as Apostle Paul. He wrote these God-inspired words:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name… Philippians 2:3-9 (NIV).
This description of what Jesus modeled is why Jesus could authentically challenge his followers to “take up their cross daily.” He portrayed dying to self-aggrandizement, pride and ego as difficult as a physical death on a cross. Not a goal for wimps. But a challenge for the courageous. The path to your greatest future is paved by service and humility.
Take some time for self-reflection. What area of your life do you find it hardest to be humble? At home? At work? What is one thing you could do today to demonstrate more humility? What most often stands in the way of you showing unpretentiousness? What is one step you could take today to love power less and align your life closer to what Jesus modeled?