14 Apr #064 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Humility–A Key to Wisdom
ESSENCE: The last of the four first principles embedded in Integriosity® is Humility, and, in addition to being the key to understanding the “HOW” of the other three “first things” (Righteousness, Love and Kingdom), it is a key to Wisdom. Pride, on the other hand, can keep the leader of an organization in an information and wisdom silo. Humility by a leader can lead to horizontal Wisdom (unleashing the unique contributions each person they lead has to offer, which enriches the leader, the organization and its people) and vertical Wisdom (seeking God’s guidance through prayer and trusting His process, timing and outcome). A leader without access to the wisdom, knowledge and experience of other people in the organization CANNOT make the best decisions for the organization. The leader who operates without the Humility to recognize the need for God’s Wisdom, pray for guidance, and trust the answers, is destined to miss the ancient path of “business a better way”.
We have been exploring the implications for work and business of the fourth of the first principles embedded in Integriosity—Humility. 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.
Humility – A Key to Wisdom
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 likes 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 principles, values 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.
In post #062, we looked at the importance of Humility for leaders of organizations in the context of Humility in Loving Others. 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“. Post #062 included some insightful quotes on this dynamic by Michael Stallard, Os Hillman and Clayton Christensen.
Your ego is not your amigo. (Rev. William ``BJ`` Weber)
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. Moreover, 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. 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 “business as usual”!
SPOILER ALERT: In the third step of Integriosity–RE-ALIGN–one of the five critical ingredients for execution is Prayer.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I recognized the importance of prayer and seeking God’s wisdom early in the life of Integrous. When attending one of Os Hillman’s Change Agent trainings in Atlanta, I met Sharon Curtis-Gerlach. (Sharon and I sensed that we were supposed to meet that weekend.) Sharon has been given a gift of prophetic and intercessory prayer and recognized how important it is for faith-driven business leaders to seek Wisdom from God in running their businesses and to have prayer covering their leadership and business. Sharon started a business called Divine Exchange, based in Canada. Divine Exchange provides intercessory prayer services for leaders and businesses. As Sharon describes it:
We come alongside of you in the area of strategic, informed and targeted intercession. We believe that prayer increases the fruit and lessens the casualties. We function as a part of your support team – like the air force going ahead of the ground troops, we prepare the way for all that God wants to do, then walk beside you cheering you on, every step of the way. When you succeed in what God has given you to do – His Kingdom is advanced, His Name is glorified, and we all succeed together.
If you are seriously pursuing faithfully “doing right”, then you will face spiritual resistance! Why wouldn’t you engage partners on that front just like you hire lawyers, accountants and consultants? Divine Exchange has been an important partner for Integrous since the beginning, and I urge you to look into how they can come along-side you in what God has given you to lead and steward.