I believe that humility is the cornerstone of leadership. Others do, too. Russ Gasdia, vice president of sales and marketing for Purdue Pharma, sums it up well. When asked to list three characteristics of an “effective leader,” he said, “Humility, humility, and humility. They know they make mistakes, accept feedback from others in order to learn, admit they don’t always know what’s right, and recognize it’s not ‘all about them.’ When they succeed, they are humble. When they fail, they are humble. And lastly, they never think they are more important than the customer!”
Humility is a key trait of outstanding organizations – and of individuals. Humility helps people be more likable and approachable, work better with others, and give better service to customers. It enables departments and teams to collaborate with other departments and teams. Perhaps most important, it allows people to communicate more freely, creating a culture of authenticity and accountability that every outstanding organization requires.
John G Miller, Outstanding
The most persuasive leader is the one who you know has your best interest at heart. Don’t be the leader who knows everything, can handle every problem, and is constantly double-checking the efforts of their team. That arrogance will cost you. By hiding behind that inauthentic facade, you miss the opportunity for true success.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew. I would say that I’ve been meditating on it or contemplating over it during my quiet time, but using the words ‘the Gospel of’ makes me sound more religious than I’m normally comfortable with anyway, so I’ll just stick with thinking about it. I’m not some heavyweight spiritual guru, just a guy trying to do his best to love his savior.
Matthew 25 is broken up into three sections:
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins (v.1-13)
- The Parable of the Talents (v.14-30)
- The Final Judgement (v.31-46)
Each one of these is a description of what it will ostensibly be like when Christ returns, especially in regard to those who claim to love and follow him. They also supply the reader with some direct application, i.e. what loving and following Jesus should look like every day. In my opinion, these messages interleave and build on one another, and together they paint a pretty clear picture of how, as a Christian, we should approach and handle our resources.
Today, I’m covering the first section, The Parable of the Ten Virgins.
Have you ever read the Parable of the Ten Virgins? I’m not going to paste the whole thing here, because there are plenty of sites where you can go to read it, but let me quickly paraphrase it for the sake of those who are unfamiliar with it.
There are ten virgins (I’m as shocked as you are) who are all waiting for their future husband to show up. Because there’s a good chance he’s going to show up after dark, they all pack lamps. Only five of them, though, are wise enough to pack extra oil for their lamps. The other five don’t.
Sure enough, at the stroke of midnight, the call goes out that he’s on his way. The girls wake up and get their lamps going, but, wouldn’t you know it, five of them are having a rough time of it. They ask the others for some of their oil, but there isn’t enough for all of them. The five without are forced to make a trip to the local lamp-oil dealer.
While they’re gone, he arrives. The five who thought ahead go with him and the others get shut out. When they finally arrive, he won’t let them in, and denies even knowing them.
Matthew 25:1-13 BPV (Bodey Paraphrased Version)
Now, obviously there is a bunch of cultural stuff in here that those of us living in the 21st century won’t immediately get. For example, it’s not a widely accepted interpretation that the parable is condoning polygamy, but only for people with excellent planning skills. I could cross-reference the commentaries and discussions explaining the actual context of the passage, but that takes me back to the whole ‘sounding religious’ problem. I just want to focus on one core point:
A call was made. Five were ready. Five weren’t. Their results varied greatly.
That’s it. Here’s the actual, non-paraphrased verse that struck me the first time I read through it:
And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.
Matthew 25:10 ESV
If you’ve chosen to follow Christ, if you love your savior, you will eventually feel the call from God to respond to what breaks his heart. Just like in the parable, it won’t come at a convenient time. It’ll require a sacrifice from you, putting some or all of your life and livelihood at risk.
That can make it hard to answer. While you may know that serving him will be unbelievably rewarding, you’re just not ready to go. You hold back.
Is it your family? You can’t go where God wants until your kids are older. It wouldn’t be safe for them. You’re not ready.
Is it your finances? Your debts need to be paid, and you have to stay in that less-than-perfect job to keep them current. If you leave it, you’ll be bankrupt and destitute. You’re not ready.
Is it your health? You’ve not taken good care of yourself, so you need the insurance. Traveling is difficult and expensive. Before you can do anything for God, you have to get in shape. You’re not ready.
It can be anything. A few things. Maybe even everything. If we’re not handling the resources that we’ve been given well, it’s easy to find excuses and say “I can’t” when the time comes. And that’s too bad, because he knows the desires of our hearts. The plans he calls us to are as much for the impact they’ll have on each of us as they are for the impact they’ll have on the world. Not being ready means that we are missing out on the best for us.
So, why aren’t you ready? What keeps you from following the dreams he’s planted in you? Figure it out. Give yourself the freedom to respond without having to scramble for more lamp-oil.
If you could change one thing so you’d be more available to God, what would it be? What goals have you set and accomplished that have later helped you respond to God? Do you think that midnight lamp-oil sales was a lucrative business model in the time of Christ?