Tightrope walking is the art of walking across a rope or wire usually suspended over great heights. This act requires incredible balance and focus, because with one slightly wrong move the walk could be over. Depending on the safety precautions taken, tightrope walking could be a very dangerous sport. However, while the dangers of this activity could be enough to scare some people into not even wanting to attempt it, the reward for succeeding in it must be great. Karl Wallenda (founder of the great Flying Wallendas) once said, “Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting.”
As we look at the first qualification for the manager-leader, which is to be dignified, I cannot help but to think of the fine balance that must be struck. First of all being dignified simply refers to the fact that one has dignity. But what exactly is dignity? Dignity can be defined as the “nobility or elevation of character; worthiness.” So with dignity, there is this sense that one should consider themselves worthy of the calling that they have received. However, with this idea of dignity there are the pitfalls of thinking too much of yourself, or not thinking enough of yourself. Hence the idea of walking a tightrope and looking at a skill that requires great balance and focus.
The first pitfall that you need to watch for is in being too prideful. In order to avoid any confusion about what I am talking about, let’s define the word first. Pride is defined as being, “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” We’ve already defined dignity as being simply “worthiness,” and in comparison pride is the idea that one thinks more (inordinate) of themselves than they ought. Pride leads to egotistic behavior, a sense of being indispensable, and other behaviors that eventually lead to a lack of trustworthiness than causes people to not want to follow.
The proper response to pride is humility. One should keep a humble perspective about themselves, and understand that others can be just as worthy as we are. A great leader is not have feelings of superiority. As a leader one should act as though they are in the service role to the people “below” them. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, so the least that we could do is to find out what support our people need and provide it to them. The leader who practices humility guards himself against the dangers of being too prideful.
The second pitfall to walking with dignity is the idea of not considering yourself worthy at all. Some people carry the humility concept much too far. While Jesus showed us how to be humble leaders, He also had a deep understanding of who He was. We need to do that as well. In a strictly business sense, you must believe in yourself when you jump into leadership roles. People are not typically given these roles unless they have earned them. That means that you should be confident in who you are and in the skills that you have, because others believe in you too.
To the Christian however, this idea takes on a slightly different meaning. Who you are in Christ is where you find the value for yourself. I’ve heard a teaching recently that makes the statement that to God, if you were worth one penny less than His own Son, then He never would have sent Him. In other words, you have great value in God’s eyes. He created you, and loves you just as much (if not more) than his own Son who He sacrificed for our sakes.
As leaders, we must have a dignity, or a sense of worth that gives us the self-confidence that we need in order to accomplish great things. You must not think less of yourself that what you are, but you must also protect yourself from the pride that can destroy trust and relationships with those around you.
Questions to consider:
Have you connected what gives you the value that you have to offer others? What do you need to do in order to realize your full worth? Have you overly expressed your worth, and exaggerated it to the point of making yourself better than others? What do you need to do in order to humble yourself into a right-sized dignity?
See more from the management by God series!