01 Nov #196 – “Leading Faithfully” Basics – First Things – Humility
ESSENCE: The first step on the ancient path from the “as usuals” of business as usual, work as usual, and faith as usual to “a better way” is RENEW, and the first step of RENEW is reordering disordered priorities to “Keep First Things First”. The last of the four first principles embedded in the word Integriosity is Humility, and it is the key to understanding the “HOW” of the other three “first things”–Righteousness, Kingdom and Love–and it is a key to Wisdom. In fact, we believe leadership without Humility is antithetical to leading an organization with faithful integrity. Every leader of an organization must choose whether to give in to pride in pursuing their own kingdom (business as usual) or to embrace Humility in pursuing God’s Kingdom (business a better way). Humility is knowing who you are in relation to God’s creation and His plan, knowing who you are in relation to others, and knowing who you are in relation to God. Such an understanding permits leadership in service to a bigger WHY of serving others. It permits leading an organization with faithful integrity in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
“Leading Faithfully” Basics is about going back and re-examining the basics of leading faithfully through business a better way–business in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. You can find more “Leading Faithfully” Basics posts at Integrous | “Leading Faithfully” Basics (integriosity.com)
We have examined business as usual, work as usual and faith as usual and considered the problems they can create, and the missed opportunities to which they can lead, for organizations, faithful leaders and the creation (particularly humans) they touch.
We are now diving deeper into an alternative to “as usuals”–a “better way” we call leading faithfully with faithful integrity through business a better way. The first step on the ancient path to that “better way” is RENEW, and the first step of RENEW is “Keep First Things First” by reordering disordered priorities. In this post we will look at the fourth of the “First Things”–Humility.
Keep First Things First–Humility
Integriosity® and faithful integrity are about aligning the purpose, values and culture of an organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. A key element of the RENEW step of Integriosity is re-ordering disordered priorities, because business as usual — business in “the way of the world” or, more precisely, according to “the kingdom of this world”–generally puts “second things first”.
In looking at Biblical principles for work and business, it is important to go back to first principles by asking what the Bible tells us are the keys to everything else. And then we have to “Keep First Things First” by pursuing those first principles and not the “everything else”! Four key principles are captured by the word Integriosity. The key Biblical principles that form the foundation of Integriosity are embedded in the word itself–Integrity (and its components Righteousness and Kingdom) and Generosity (and its components Love and Humility).
In recent posts, we have taken a dive into the “Integrity Priorities” embedded into Integriosity–Righteousness and Kingdom–and the first of the “Generosity Priorities”–Love. The second “Generosity Priority”, and the last of the four first principles embedded in Integriosity, is Humility.
The words “humble” or “humility” come up in over 50 Biblical passages (in the ESV). When talking about “Keeping First Things First”, Humility is clearly a “first thing”. We see in Micah 6:8 that it is one of the three things God requires:
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
More importantly, Humility is a key to understanding the “HOW” of the other three “first things”–Righteousness, Love and Kingdom. Humility is:
• A “HOW of Righteousness
• A “HOW” of Loving others
• A “HOW” of pursuing the Kingdom of God
If that is not enough, Proverbs 11:2 makes humility a KEY to Wisdom.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
What is Humility?
Humility is one of those concepts (like integrity) that is often misunderstood. What is it?
Humility Is Knowing Who You Are.
We like how Jon Walker expressed Humility in his devotional Grace Creates: “Authentic humility means I know who I am and my place in God’s plan. It means my position did not come from my own hands, but is a gift freely given from the one who holds me in his hands.” This captures the three aspects of Humility we will explore in more detail:
• Humility and Righteousness: Knowing who we are in relation to God’s creation and His plan.
• Humility and Love: Knowing who we are in relation to others.
• Humility and Kingdom: Knowing who we are in relation to God.
Humility Is Not a Lack of Confidence
Sometimes people confuse Humility with weakness, meekness, shyness and a lack of self-confidence. The late Clay Christensen, a devout Mormon and distinguished author and Harvard Business School professor, wrote:
I asked all the students to describe the most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others.
Humility Is Important in Leadership
Not only is Humility relevant to leading an organization, Jim Collins identified it as an ESSENTIAL trait in order for a leader to take a business from “good to great”. Collins identified levels of leadership, with the highest being a Level 5 leader. These are his extraordinary findings:
The most powerfully transformative executives possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will. According to our five-year research study, executives who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one. Good-to-great transformations don’t happen without Level 5 leaders at the helm. They just don’t.
A Lack of Humility Is Contrary to Faithful Integrity
The opposite of Humility is pride and arrogance (and we know that the truly original sin was Lucifer’s pride, which led to his fall). Jim Collins points out that “celebrity” CEO’s do not have what it takes to lead an organization from “good to great”. In his book, To Change the World, James Hunter discusses the “unavoidable paradox between pursuing faithful presence and the social consequence of achievement; between leadership and an elitism that all too often comes with it.”
Leadership without Humility is antithetical to leading an organization with faithful integrity. In the very strong words of James Hunter:
[Faithful presence] is also the antithesis of celebrity, a model of leadership that many Christians in prominent positions have a very difficult time resisting. Celebrity is, in effect, based on an inflated brilliance, accomplishment, or spirituality generated and perpetuated by publicity. It is an artifice and, therefore, a type of fraud. And so, whether leadership is expressed within the dynamics of celebrity or outright arrogance rooted in a sense of superiority, such leadership is artificial, unbiblical, organizationally unhealthy, inherently corrupting, and all too common in the Christian world—especially in the United States. Christianity needs to rediscover an alternative.
Humility–The “HOW” of Righteousness
Humility in pursuing Righteousness flows from knowing who we are in relation to God’s creation and His plan.
In wrapping up the exploration of Righteousness in post #189 (First Things–Righteousness), we asserted that faithfully “doing right” in the pursuit of faithful integrity is more than “doing good”–it means “doing right” by God, and that means living generously through loving others and stewarding creation.
And we suggested that living generously is living sacrificially–choosing to give something up or to forgo a benefit because it benefits the common good–because it is faithfully “doing right”. Living sacrificially in that way–a key to Righteousness–is not possible without Humility.
Humility is a “HOW” of Righteousness because faithful integrity requires knowing who we are in relation to God’s creation and His plan. In order to lead an organization in a way that sacrificially stewards creation and benefits the common good, a leader must have an understanding of their role and the role of the organization in the MUCH BIGGER picture of God’s creation and His plan–the Creation and Restoration book-ends of the BIGGER Four-Part Gospel.
• The leader must understand the Creation Mandate and its command of stewardship.
• The leader must recognize that God owns the organization.
• The leader must embrace the commandment to “love your neighbor” and understand its relevance to an organization.
Only that understanding will convict the leader of the call to submit their authority and the purpose of the organization to Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. In his book, To Change the World, James Hunter writes:
The reason that leadership is sacrificial and selfless is because its practice is an expression of “power under submission.” The gifts, resources, and influence one stewards are not one’s own to use as one wishes but rather they belong to God: they exist under his authority, and believers are held to account for how they steward them.
In his book Momentum: Pursuing God’s Blessings Through the Beatitudes, Colin Smith likens the Beatitudes to a series of rings on which you can swing from one to the next.
To move from one ring to the next, you must grasp each ring in order. The only way to get to the fifth ring of forgiveness, the sixth ring of purity, or the seventh ring of peace is by means of the rings that come before. You can’t start from the fifth, sixth, or seventh ring. They have to be reached, and the Beatitudes will show you how.
Smith goes so far as to say that the first Beatitude (“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Matthew 5:3), which he equates with Humility, is the gateway to all the others: “This is the gateway blessing that leads to all the others, and without this none of the other blessings can be reached.” That means you can’t get to the fourth ring of Righteousness without first having Humility.
We see another way in which Humility is a “HOW” of Righteousness in Matthew 6:1:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
This warning hits on a central theme of Integriosity–WHY MATTERS! It warns against practicing Righteousness “in order to be seen”. As we have emphasized in numerous posts, faithful integrity requires more than “doing the right thing”–it requires doing the right thing, in the right ways, and for the right reasons. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons looks good and probably “does good”, but it is missing business a better way–it is missing God’s heart for our work.
Humility–The “HOW” of Pursuing the Kingdom
Humility in pursuing the Kingdom flows from knowing who we are in relation to God.
The link between Humility and pursuing the Kingdom can be seen in various passages of the Bible. For example:
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
If Humility is a “HOW” of Pursuing the Kingdom, what does that mean, and what does it mean to be “childlike”?
Humility as Poverty
In his book Momentum: Pursuing God’s Blessings Through the Beatitudes, Colin Smith suggests:
“Poor in spirit” means that you recognize your poverty before God. It is an attitude toward yourself in which you know and affirm that you have not lived the life to which God has called you, and that, without Him, you cannot do so now.
In other words, Humility is understanding who we are in relation to God. The renowned preacher Phillips Brooks expressed it this way (which is way better than we could express it, which is why we are quoting him!):
The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
God is the higher nature that shows us who we are, which can only be humbling as we look out at a sunset or consider the vastness of the Universe or the complexity of life on Earth. Humility as poverty also leads to Humility as grace. It is recognizing that only by God’s grace are we not in the position of the person we are quick to judge. In the words of Oswald Chambers:
The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.
Humility as Dependence and Trust
But what does it mean to humble yourself “like this child”. We think there are two qualities of a child that line up with the Humility of “poor in spirit”–dependence and trust.
Dependence. Children are completely dependent on their parents for survival and growth–food, shelter, education. Most children, particularly babies and small children, aren’t responsible for ensuring that there will be food for the next meal or a bed to sleep in each night or heat for their home. They don’t make decisions about their life. They are completely dependent on others for everything. BUT, the journey of young adulthood is all about moving to INDEPENDENCE–learning to care your yourself, provide for yourself and make decisions for yourself.
As we climb the mountain of independence (and even rebel against those on whom we were dependent), God is constantly calling us to yield our independence and return to dependence. But this time, our dependence is on an “unseen” provider and comes at the expense of our hard-fought independence! God’s Word is full of stories about the need to be dependent on Him. Here are what a few commentators we love and respect say about the need for, the importance of, and even the pain associated with, learning dependence on God:
Oswald Chambers: When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed.
Rick Warren: God’s path to a miracle often takes you through uncomfortable territory so you’ll learn to depend on him.
Os Hillman: The lesson here is to learn daily and complete dependence on God. Use your gifts and abilities through the power of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him daily for direction and wisdom. His ways won’t always line up with conventional wisdom. When we begin depending on our abilities only, God has a responsibility to make known to us who is the giver of the blessings.
Dr. Skip Moen: Perhaps we need to reconsider Exodus before we read John. Perhaps the path to [the abundant life] leads through the [wilderness] . . . the place where human life is unsustainable. How can the wilderness be a necessary path to superabundance? . . . The wilderness is our journey to dependence. Until we learn that lesson—deeply—the abundant life isn’t available. The way to a full life with God passes through Mordor.
Trust. Children naturally trust–at least until they learn that people can’t be trusted. But when life has shown us that our childhood trust is naive and even dangerous, God calls us to trust Him completely–trust an “unseen” guide who is trying to rob our independence!
Like the dependence/independence/dependence journey, God calls us to a trust/mistrust/trust journey. But the dependence journey requires us to complete the trust journey. In leading an organization, there are three elements to trusting God: trust His process (which may seem counter-cultural and even counter-intuitive), trust His timing (which is likely to be slower than ours) and trust His outcome (which is likely to be counter-cultural). Os Hillman describes the trust journey in terms of David’s pride in numbering his troops:
But the minute Joab heard the request he cringed. He knew David was in big trouble for this one. You see to number the troops was a great sin in Israel because it was against the law. Why? Because it demonstrated that you were placing more trust in numbers than in the living God. David displayed enough pride to cost the lives of 70,000 fighting men. . . . The minute you and I place more trust in our abilities than in God, we are guilty of numbering the troops
Pursuing the Kingdom Requires Choosing a Kingdom
Every leader of an organization must ultimately choose the “Kingdom” they will pursue. For a faithful leader, there are always two choices–the leader’s kingdom or God’s Kingdom. At Integrous, we believe that you can’t pursue both, just as you can’t serve two masters (“No one can serve two masters“, Matthew 6:24). The pursuit of the leader’s kingdom may actually bring more material wealth and “worldly” success, but at great spiritual cost and human brokenness. Business as usual is the pursuit of that kingdom, with all the implications and consequences highlighted in post #171 (How the World’s “Way” Wrecks “Work”).
Business a better way is choosing to pursue God’s Kingdom, which requires understanding that a HOW is Humility, expressed as recognizing the “smallness of our greatness” and returning to the childlike qualities of dependence and trust on God in making decisions and leading the organization. Even the faithful leader who chooses to pursue God’s Kingdom for their organization must be wary of taking a Placebo that causes the organization to detour off the ancient path of business a better way onto a Side Road, which can make the pursuit of the leader’s kingdom feel like the pursuit of God’s Kingdom.
Humility–The “HOW” of Loving Others
Humility in Loving Others flows from knowing who we are in relation to others.
The link between Humility and Loving Others can be seen in Philippians 2:3:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Humility Based on How We See Others.
Humility sheds light on the “HOW” of Loving Others by focusing us on the “WHY” behind our actions. Humility requires us to see the value in other people, which should lead us to treat them with dignity, respect and kindness because of WHO they are. Its roots must be in understanding and embracing Imago Dei–that all people are created in the image of God as “very good”. Without Humility, our “love” and “kindness” may be born of our own ambitions and desires and be tools of manipulation rather than gestures of Loving Others.
The importance of the WHY behind the actions of a leader and an organization has been a theme running through our discussion of faithful integrity. Loving Others from the wrong motivations is the difference between business as usual and business a better way. It is the difference between treating people well because you have determined that “kindness” is good for the bottom line and treating people well because you recognize the importance of the commandment to “love your neighbor” and you recognize the need to Humanize, Beautify and Glorify.
It is the difference between the ancient path of business a better way and the faith as usual Side Road of Prosperitizing, which may look faith-driven on the surface but is actually business as usual at its heart.
Humility Based on How We See Ourselves.
Humility in Loving Others also flows from understanding WHO we are–imperfect humans who are in no position to judge others for their imperfections. Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest:
The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.
Humility allows us to Love Others by showing grace for their mistakes by being honest about ourselves–recognizing the IMPERFECTION in our own humanity. Wm. Paul Young summed it up when he wrote:
Pride is a sin because it is a denial of being human. Humility is always a celebration of something essentially human.
But Humility in Loving Others also requires us to understand the BEAUTY of our own humanity. In teaching a class on humility at Harvard College, Clayton Christensen recognized the importance of self-esteem to being able to exhibit humility:
I asked all the students to describe the most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. . . . Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself—and you want to help those around you feel really good about themselves, too. When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or demeaning manner toward others, their behavior almost always is a symptom of their lack of self-esteem. They need to put someone else down to feel good about themselves.
The Incredible Importance of Humility for Leaders of Organizations
For a leader of an organization, Humility in Loving Others is critical because it permits the leader to learn from the people they lead and to unlock the God-given productivity and creativity of those people. Humility in Loving Others allows a leader to recognize that they do not have all the answers and to unleash and embrace the unique contributions each person they lead has to offer, which enriches the leader, the organization and its people.
Humility allows the leader to Love Others by creating an environment of Shalom that Humanizes them! Here are a few examples of how others have described this dynamic.
Michael Stallard: Voice exists when everyone in an organization seeks the ideas and opinions of others, shares their opinions honestly, and safeguards relational connections. In a culture where voice exists, decision makers have the humility to know that they don’t have a monopoly on good ideas, and they need to seek and consider the opinions and ideas of others in order to make the best decisions.
Os Hillman: When we believe that we know all we need to know, we are in a dangerous place. God has placed men and women in the Body of Christ who have had different experiences and gifts that can be helpful in our own spiritual pilgrimages. It requires humility of heart to realize that we can learn from others.
Clayton Christensen: It’s crucial to take a sense of humility into the world. By the time you make it to a top graduate school, almost all your learning has come from people who are smarter and more experienced than you: parents, teachers, bosses. But once you’ve finished at Harvard Business School or any other top academic institution, the vast majority of people you’ll interact with on a day-to-day basis may not be smarter than you. And if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited.
The Incredible Challenge of Humility for Leaders of Organizations
Humility may be a key to the “HOW” of genuinely Loving Others, but Humility presents a particular challenge to leaders of organizations, because it is contrary to what our secular culture (and even our faith as usual culture) elevates and rewards. The incredible challenge of being humbly counter-cultural as a leader has been recognized by many commentators.
On the one hand, the leader is often treated like a celebrity, and on the other, they must humbly put others first. Here are just a few quotes addressing this paradox:
Jim Collins: Good-to-great transformations don’t happen without Level 5 leaders at the helm. They just don’t. Our discovery of Level 5 leadership is counterintuitive. Indeed, it is countercultural. People generally assume that transforming companies from good to great requires larger-than-life leaders—big personalities like Iacocca, Dunlap, Welch, and Gault, who make headlines and become celebrities. My preliminary hypothesis is that there are two categories of people: those who don’t have the Level 5 seed within them and those who do. The first category consists of people who could never in a million years bring themselves to subjugate their own needs to the greater ambition of something larger and more lasting than themselves.
James Hunter: To the extent that Christians exercise leadership, then, they face an unavoidable paradox between pursuing faithful presence and the social consequences of achievement; between leadership and an elitism that all too often comes with it. The paradox is that all Christians are called to a life of humility, of placing others’ interests ahead of their own, of attending to the needs of “the least among us.” Yet leadership inevitably puts all in relative positions of influence and advantage. There is no way around this paradox and it is especially acute the more social influence one has.
Your ego is not your amigo. (William ``BJ`` Weber)
Humility–A Key to Wisdom
We believe Humility is a key to Wisdom. Pride keeps us in a Wisdom silo, but Humility opens us up to vertical and horizontal Wisdom–the Wisdom of God and the Wisdom of others.
The link between Humility and Pursuing the Kingdom can be seen in Proverbs 11:2:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Or in simpler terms, Rev. William (“BJ”) Weber liked to say “Your ego is not your amigo.”
Pride can keep a leader in an information and wisdom silo. When a leader believes he is smarter and more skilled than those who work for him and does not seek their insights, that leader will make decisions that do not take into account the wisdom, knowledge and experience of others in the organization. These are the people closer to the nuts and bolts of the business–closer to customers, closer to the factory floor, closer to the distribution system, closer to customer service. They are also humans with different gifts, skills, experience and perspectives.
If a leader’s ego leads her to surround herself by people who only affirm her decisions rather than challenging them (or if the leader has created a culture in which challenges are perceived as “dangerous”), that leader will be making decisions in a vacuum, devoid of the wisdom, knowledge and experience of “the organization”. It may stroke the leader’s ego, but it is not respecting others in the organization.
Likewise, a leader who does not have the Humility to recognize they are merely a steward of God’s organization is unlikely to submit decisions to prayer before proceeding and is unlikely to worry about whether the organization is operating in line with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. Such a leader will be relying completely on their own abilities, which is not respecting the REAL OWNER of the organization.
Horizontal Wisdom–Seeking Other Humans
We suggested that Humility permits the leader to learn from the people they lead and to unlock the God-given productivity and creativity of those people. Humility allows a leader to recognize that they do not have all the answers and to unleash and embrace the unique contributions each person they lead has to offer, which enriches the leader, the organization and its people.
In his book Connection Culture, Michael Stallard describes what he calls a “knowledge trap”:
Knowledge traps can arise from internal rivalries, silo behavior, decision makers who lack the humility to seek and consider ideas and opinions of others, and isolationist behavior.
If a leader lacks the Humility to recognize the value of other humans in the organization and give them a “voice”, the knowledge of those humans is “trapped” with them and can’t translate into Wisdom for the leader. A leader without access to the wisdom, knowledge and experience of other people in the organization (whether because the leader does not seek it or because the leader has created a culture in which it is not considered “safe” to share it or because the leader has chosen to filter all information through “yes” people) CANNOT make the best decisions for the organization. For a leader, “your ego is not your amigo“.
Vertical Wisdom–Seeking God
God is the source of all wisdom. As we have discussed in prior posts, God has a purpose for organizations because he has a purpose for His people and organizations are just groups of people working together (hopefully) toward a common purpose; and the Bible tells us that God will give wisdom to those who ask:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path. (Proverbs 2:6-9)
The leader who operates without the Humility to recognize the need for God’s Wisdom and pray for guidance is destined to miss the ancient path of business a better way. They are destined to miss the BIGGER purposes of an organization to Humanize People, Beautify the World and Glorify God. Remember, Jim Collins concluded that leaders who lacked the Humility to be “Level 5” leaders “could never in a million years bring themselves to subjugate their own needs to the greater ambition of something larger and more lasting than themselves.” Once again, “Your ego is not your amigo.”
It is Proverbs that famously urges us to seek God’s wisdom and not rely on our own:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Of course, even the leader who humbly prays for vertical Wisdom will only get the benefit of that Wisdom by trusting God’s process, timing and outcome:
Process: God’s process is often counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. Imagine being Joshua and circling the walls of Jericho.
Timing: God’s timing often seems excruciatingly slow. Imagine being the Israelites wandering for 40 years.
Outcome: God’s best outcome for an organization may not be the world’s best outcome, because God cares about people and the world often sacrifices people for power and money.
Praying for a particular process, timing and outcome is NOT praying for Wisdom, and ignoring God’s Wisdom to pursue your own process, timing or outcome is NOT wise–it is prideful “business as usual”!
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): When I think about Humility in Loving Others, I think about “Ron”. Ron was a homeless man living on the streets of New York City–his spot was midway on 47th Street between Madison and Fifth. Each day I would come out of the North entrance of Grand Central to walk to work. I followed the traffic lights, and if they led me past Ron, I would always give him a dollar. I felt good about myself for doing this. One day in a New Canaan Society Energy Group (a small group of men who get together without an agenda or content and share life confidentially–the triumphs and the struggles–and pray for each other) I proudly mentioned my routine with Ron. One of the men in the group affirmed me and then asked “what’s his name?”. BAM!! I had no idea.
My gestures of kindness to Ron were not about Ron–they were about Paul–my WHY was not really about Loving Others. No Humility; No Loving Others. I was not seeing Ron through the lens of Imago Dei, and I was not seeing Paul through the lens of the brokenness I shared in that confidential group (perhaps it made my own brokenness easier to accept by seeing myself as somehow “better than” Ron). The next day I walked down 47th Street I stopped, squatted down, looked Ron in the eye, introduced myself and asked him his name. Once he got past the initial shock of someone actually caring and showing kindness beyond throwing money in a box without eye contact, he told me it was “Ron”. I told him there was a group of men who were praying for him and asked if there was something specific for which we could pray. He thought for a moment and said “just a better situation I guess”. Each day after that, I stopped and said “Good morning Ron” to the fellow human sitting on the sidewalk.