Naturally humble?

Originally posted on 20 July 2009 at

No one is humble by nature. In fact, the person who appears naturally humble is usually too lazy to be ambitious or too fearful to take risks. If a person is not tempted to control, especially in a crisis, this is often a symptom of despair and fatalism. Humility comes from humiliation, not from the choice to be self-effacing or a strong urge to give others credit.

Humility that has not come from suffering due to one’s own arrogance is either a pragmatic strategy to get along with others or a natural predilection that seems to befit only a few rare individuals. For most leaders, humility comes only by wounds suffered from foolish falls.

This is the terrible secret about leadership and life: we achieve brokenness by falling off our throne. To be broken is not a choice; it is a gift. I don’t know anyone who has made the decision to be broken and achieved it as an act of the will. But to experience brokenness and humiliation, all you have to do is lead. We who lead know that things happen that make little sense and that seem to have no immediate solution yet involve some failure on our part. …

Leading others gives you the opportunity to first be caught in the crossfire of competing goals and agendas and then to deal with that crossfire with limited resources and inadequate information. Every decision you make in such adverse circumstances will be favored by some and opposed by others. And in such circumstances, someone will certainly consider you a failure. Leading invites humiliation and brokenness.

Clearly there are only three possible responses to the absurdity of leadership: control, flight, or brokenness. Given the futility of control and the uselessness of flight, the only viable option for leaders who want to mature is to embrace being broken.

—Dan B. Allender, Leading With a Limp: Take Full Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness, pp. 69-71 (emphasis added).