When you look at good leaders you find they have three of these qualities. They are good communicators, are administrative and relational. But if you are looking for a great leader they are going to line up these qualities in such a way to have humility stuck right in the middle to hold their leadership together.
When I asked my friend Nick Takiyama to draw this diagram I had sketched on my white board for me I loved the end product. The area of overlap could have been much larger. The area representing humility could have covered more ground and allowed for more people to fit into the model.
But it doesn't. The number of leaders who hold all four of these qualities is quite small (please note: I'm not saying I hold all four).
There are a handful of people that I can think of that truly posses the quality of humility in leadership along with the other three. When you've met someone who possesses all four you don't forget them. Let me share how you might know you're talking with a person who has all four.
How you feel when you leave the conversationWhen you leave the conversation with a humble person you feel better about yourself. In my experience, humble people ask provoking, thoughtful and meaningful questions. They want to truly understand what is occurring in your life. They care more about knowing what is happening in your life than talking about themselves.
This is another key factor. I've found that humble talk about themselves way less. They are not quick to tell you how amazing they are. They are not quick to talk about how big their church is. They are not quick to talk about all the things they've accomplished in the last five years. When you're sitting with them, you probably know the answers to some of these subjects but they are not likely to start the conversation in that direction.
About a year ago I met another man who possesses all these qualities. God has called us both to full-time, vocational, ministry. He has served at some great churches, done some great things for the Lord and is well known. When I met him he was so encouraging. He took me to breakfast and it was getting a shot of encouragement right in the arm. He shared ideas that I could considered, he asking thoughtful questions about the new church I was serving in. He gave me principles to implement that would help our church reach more people for Jesus. When I left that breakfast I felt so encouraged!
The focus is not on themPart of the reason I think humble people make others feel encouraged is because they don't want the spot light on them. It's not that humble people don't think about themselves, it's just that they think about theirselves less. Humble think about themselves, they have just learned to think about themselves less. They don't think they are stupid or worthless. They know their value. They know they are created by God and have a purpose on this world. Their purpose is to help more people know what God created them for.
I'm reminded of the life of Moses as this stage in the conversation. Moses was born in Egypt. His parents are Jewish. Pharaoh made an edict that all Jewish, male, babies were to be killed.
God spared Moses life and he was raised in the home of Pharaoh (that is a turn of events!). Moses received a great training, had all this privilege but never forgot his roots. After killing a man, he lived in the desert for forty years. Then God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land.
Moses spent time with God. Moses listened to God. Moses didn't make it about him. Moses longed for point the glory to God. God's word tells us that Moses was "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3). I don't think Moses wrote that line.
Part of being a humble person means the focus is not on you. The concern is with helping others. The concern is with a greater cause, something that will leave a legacy for years to come.
Humble people build you upWhen I share about the guy who took me to breakfast and Moses there is a common thread: Humble people build others up. Moses invested his life in many leaders but one in particular. Moses spent time with Joshua and built him up. There are countless leaders who've invested in my life in the last two decades. Brett drove 30-40 mins to pick me up so I could go to church with him. Doug spent time with me at lunch so I could improve my preaching. Bill taught me about time management and putting my family first. Rod spent time with me working on sermons. Mark cared about me as a father and leader. These are just some people who stick out to me while I'm writing this.
Who can you start building up? This is a question I constantly ask myself. I am getting older (some of you are laughing) but I want this to be a priority to my life now. For almost a decade I was blessed to work with students. Our goal was to always build them up. Now that I work primarily with adults I want to do the same. I want to build others. I want people to leave feeling care for.
This whole post started because of Silvio. Silvio took me to lunch and we wrote this on a napkin. Silvio falls into the category of humility. He leads a large company, serves faithfully in the local church, spends time with his family, and cared enough to help a young campus pastor.