It is very early in the morning, still dark outside and quiet in the house…my favorite time of day. Even on the weekends I set my alarm so that I can rise before everyone else…stealing moments of time to sit in absolute stillness, gather my thoughts and tune into my spirit. It is a time when the events of the previous days, weeks or months, settle on my heart and give me pause for deep reflection. It is also a time of humble prayer and quiet meditation.
Today, I continue to reflect on the word humility. Webster’s defines it as the quality of being humble, respectful and modest. In a broader sense, it is not only the quality of being modest about what we do know, but an honest acknowledgement of all that we don’t know and still have to learn. It is submissive in nature. It is the opposite of ego and it is rooted in love. It is the great equalizer when we find ourselves pulled off-center in a state of false pride.
It is at these times – times when we momentarily lose our balance – that our outer strength gives way to a deeper vulnerability, and in this raw, exposed place, we feel naked and humbled beyond measure. It is these moments that tempt us to run away, bury our hearts, or hide behind thick walls of defense; moments when prideful ego or ignorance rooted deeply in fear, risk luring us away from the growth and wisdom that true humility provides. But experience teaches us that humility is a powerful, grounding force, if we’ll allow its rightful place in our lives. It is not haughty or boastful or proud. It centers and grounds us in our wisdom, while gently reminding us of all we still have to learn. It dismantles our ego, while opening our hearts. It builds bridges instead of walls. It unifies rather than divides.
Sometimes humility is simply God’s way of reminding us to be still and to submit to the truth that we are but one star in a galaxy of many. No less important than others, but no more important, either; that just as we are all leaders in our lives, we are all learners, too; that perhaps the purpose of life is not to rest in certain knowledge of the answers, but to humbly and courageously seek the truth while embracing the larger mystery that is life.
How do you define humility? What role does it play in your leadership? What role does it play in your life? Have you ever found yourself thrown off-balance? What role has humility played in bringing you back to center? How has humility helped you grow?