What people come to mind when you think about humility?
How about former Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, Joe Louis?
No? This true story from John Dickson’s book Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership will change your mind:
Three young men hopped on a bus in Detroit in the 1930s and tried to pick a fight with a lone man sitting at the back of the vehicle. They insulted him. He didn’t respond. They turned up the heat of the insults. He said nothing. Eventually, the stranger stood up.
He was bigger than they had estimated from his seated position — much bigger. He reached into his pocket, handed them his business card and walked off the bus and then on his way. As the bus drove on the young men gathered around the card to read the words: Joe Louis. Boxer. They had just tried to pick a fight with the man who would be Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World from 1937 to 1949, the number one boxer of all time, according to the International Boxing Research Organization (second on the list is Muhammad Ali).
Here is a man of immense power and skill, capable of defending his honour with a single, devastating blow. Yet, he chooses to forgo his status and hold his power for others — in this case, for some very fortunate young men…
Now, I’ll admit I was surprised by some of Dickson’s ideas in Humilitas. But the more I read, the more Dickson demonstrated that his case makes good logical & biblical sense.
Do you have a favorite idea from the list below? Do you disagree with any of these ideas? Leave your reaction in comment.
8 Surprising Ideas about Humility
1. Humility presupposes your dignity… which is why it should not be confused with having low self-esteem or being a doormat for others.
2. It is impossible to be humble… without a healthy sense of your own worth and abilities.
3. Healthy self-worth is rooted far more in service than achievement, far more in giving than taking.
4. Humility is willing. It is a choice. Otherwise, it is humiliation.
5. Humility is social. It is not a private act of self-deprecation — banishing proud thoughts, refusing to talk about your achievements and so on… Humility is about the redirecting of your powers [physical, intellectual, financial or structural] for the sake of others.
6. Humility, rightly understood, has often marked the most influential and inspiring people in history. [Likewise,] some of the most influential people in our daily lives exert their influence with humility.
7. Humility is not an ornament to be worn; it is an ideal that will transform.
8. Humility is more about how I treat others than how I think about myself.
Learn more about Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership
Follow John Dickson on Twitter (@johnpauldickson)
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan
(Image by Carl Van Vechten, from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection. Image and select styling in this post are web-exclusive features not present in Humilitas. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer’s personal opinions are shared for information purposes only. To receive new Zondervan Blog posts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)