[management by God] a dash of humility

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

November 16, 2010

With the success of quiz shows like “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader”, it’s evident that the idea of being “smarter than ___” is becoming increasingly important in our society.

These prime-time game shows are continually blasting us with the idea that success is somehow tied to how smart you are. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” teaches us that knowing stuff can make you rich, while “The Weakest Link” further emphasises the fact that being not as smart as the next guy is a problem.

I believe that this mindset is a problem, and as we continue through the Proverbs, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss why I feel this way.

Solomon teaches us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

There are two things that I feel like this passage teaches us. First, we need to trust the authority over us. Then second, we not rely on our own knowledge and understanding.

What You Know

Solomon instructs us to, “not lean on our own understanding”. There are a couple of things involved with this concept. First of all relying on your own understanding or knowledge, would require that you actually knew everything that you need to know. Rarely have I every met anyone (besides myself… okay, just kidding) that actually knows everything that they need to know.

If this is the way that you’re operating, then you’re fooling yourself. Odds are that you actually don’t know EVERYTHING you need to know. And if you think you do, then you probably could use a slice of humble pie, and get over yourself.

Besides, even if you do know everything, then you may be denying the people around you to share something and feel like they’re a valuable member of “the community”.

Building Community

Furthermore… relying on your own thoughts works against the idea of community that you should be building in your workplace. As a leader you have a responsibility to build community with the people in your work environment. Without this community effect, you will never get people to reach their full potential.

Therefore, if you’re running around like “Mr. Know-It-All”, then you’re likely snuffing out opportunities for others to get involved. Even if they share an idea that you already had, then at least you’re allowing them the opportunity to feel like a valuable member of the community.

Relying On Our Authority

Then working backwards into this passage, we’re also told to trust the Lord, who is our ultimate authority. In a business environment, I believe that this principle also requires us to trust those in authority over us.

However when paired with the idea of not relying on your own understanding, then I think there’s a respect principle that’s being taught here that we shouldn’t forget.

We should constantly be seeking the wisdom of our superiors, and take what they share with us very seriously. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go to them with new and different ideas, because if they are also following this principle, then they wouldn’t act as if they knew it all either.

What this means is that we need to engage in conversations with our superiors (who are more responsible for the vision of the organization more than we are), and respect what they have to offer us.

Questions to consider:

  • How are you engaging those above you in conversations about how you can best affect the organization?
  • Are you ready to hear anything that they may have to say to you?
  • What do you need to do in order to position yourself best for this conversation, and respect their authority?
  • What conversations are you having with the people below you?
  • Are you acting like a know-it-all, or are you really open to hearing what they would have to say?
  • Try taking one of their ideas right now, and implementing it, even if you “know” that it is going to fail. Seriously, what do you have to loose?
  • But by allowing that type of growth opportunity, what could you gain from doing this?

I believe that the “smartest” guy on the block is not the one that “knows” the most stuff, but is the one that knows how to use the resources around him/her in order to achieve the greatest level of success.

See more from the management by God series!


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[management by God] a dash of humility

by Dan King time to read: 4 min