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Posts from the President Vol 14

On October 23 and 24 I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at Grant Memorial Church in Winnipeg. It was encouraging to see so many Providence alumni there, all of whom are leaders in various ways. The Summit featured about twenty speakers, all speaking about various aspects of leadership and leadership experiences. There were a lot of good principles put forth. So after a few days, what is the one idea I recall most forcefully? Humility. Humility marks the effective long-term leader more than any other virtue.

A friend once told me that humility is one virtue you cannot identify in yourself, because once you do, you are no longer humble. Perhaps he was correct, but if we define humility by the actions it motivates, perhaps he was not quite right. When a leader practices certain actions, those actions lead to certain virtues.

So how should we adjust our practices in order to develop humility and thus become effective long-term leaders? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find a reason and say thank you to everyone.
  2. Be circumspect in the use of your privileges.
  3. Take the “lowest place.”
  4. Really listen to everyone.
  5. Meditate on and practice the biblical doctrine of grace.

Jesus’ parable of the workers is troubling (Matt 20:1-16). Each worker worked a different number of hours yet they were all paid the same. Those who worked for an hour were paid the same amount as those who worked for eight hours. It was not fair. That is the biblical doctrine of grace. Grace means getting a gift you don’t deserve. It is humbling to understand that what I have, whether material possessions or a status in life, is something I don’t deserve. It’s a gift. The position of leader is a gift bestowed by others.

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