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An Interesting Take on Humility

While watching a television episode of “The Voice” the other night, I realized that some of the candidates, after I heard their stories and watched them head for the stage, had my prayers for a great performance! I just wanted them to do well. That instant support had to do with what they said prior to walking through that door to perform.

As always is the case, these candidates share their back-story, which often includes early struggles with loss, illness or other challenges they’ve had to overcome. Some stories are sad and others are inspiring. In all cases, it isn’t the story that makes me break into a spontaneous prayer of support - it’s what they say just right before walking onto the stage, that makes me say to myself, Please, let him (or her) do a great job! Any idea what you think that is?

It’s a show of humility. Some candidates, regardless of their experience or lack of it, have a really high opinion of themselves; they’re simply cocky and their expectations are high – of themselves and the judges’ reactions. Others, who are a bit more humble, are simply excited for the opportunity and hope that, “if even one chair would turn”, it could be life-changing for them. The latter ones steal my heart.

Their family’s reaction tells me a lot, too. While the candidate is performing, as a chair or two turns – or not - some parents and friends beam with pride and the support and love simply oozes out of them. They have no expectations, only hope. The opposite reaction can also occur: the family who, even with a 2-chair turn, still yell for the remaining judges, by name, to turn their chair; almost demanding - like they expect a 4-chair turn and wonder why the remaining judges aren’t responding. Frankly, that reaction is a turn-off, to me.

Silly of me, huh? I realize the gut reaction I have has little to do with the talent of any one of those performers but I do believe it will have a lot to do with that performer’s coachability down the road. Humility is a very attractive trait – when it’s exposed in the right setting, at the right time and to the right degree. The coaches love it, too.

Well, that’s a long story just to bring you to another perspective about humility. That alternative perspective comes from Jesus. He shows up to me from time-to-time and this time he was encouraging me to volunteer to give a 10-minute talk – sort of like a Master Class – for an organization to which I belong. I was reluctant and had put that on the back-burner since I’d be joining a number of others, within an hour. who would be covering much lighter subjects like cooking, exercise, gardening. A couple were even promoting their businesses. It didn’t feel like the right venue for me.

Still, Jesus used this as a teaching opportunity to remind me not to be too timid, which I sometimes have the tendency to be. Along with other profound points He made in that message, he showed me the flip side of having too much humility when he said:

“I hope this gave you a little confidence, dear Sandy, you seem to need a boost from time-to-time. Humility is good in the short term but in the long term, it’s an excuse to hide!”

Of course, Jesus’ message was absolutely right. Humility should never be an excuse for walking away from an opportunity to grow in experience, expose one’s talents to a new or larger audience or to take a risk that could truly pay-off one day and greatly benefit others. Instead, humility should be used to manage the expectations we set for how others should receive us, the end result - we think we deserve, or our how we view the vastness of our knowledge, about anything. That’s when humility is positive: small doses, appropriately applied.

What a wonderful distinction to remember.

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