Humble Leadership: Being Radically Open to God’s Guidance and Grace
N. Graham Standish
Alban Institute, $26.95
Humility in leadership seems to be in fairly short supply in today’s Christian church. Yes, even in the church, leaders struggle to put aside ego and pride to embrace humility.
It is not uncommon for Christians today to talk about wielding power, even military power, on behalf of God. It is not unusual for contemporary Christians to self-righteously declare their particular position as the correct one, and all opposing views, even the those held by the wider church itself, as wrong or even heretical.
Our cultural need for strength infects Christian leaders with a pride that causes them to ignore biblical teachings on humility.
Standish believes that it is possible to be both humble and a leader. Indeed, he argues in this book that the best leaders are always humble — that it is out of their humility they find a way to inspire, motivate, and unify those they lead.
Standish returns the reader to the very beginnings of humanity to remind us that humility is grounded in our very creation — humankind is created out of dirt. To become humble means first, to recognise our earthiness, our dirt-ness. Humility according to Standish, is a recognition that we are made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe.
Using the wisdom from great spiritual writers, contemporary examples, and our greatest model of humble leadership, Jesus or Nazareth, Standish points to examples of great leaders of the past who have been deeply humble.
After acknowledging the tension between leadership and humility, the reader is invited to become self-aware so that they can become aware of, and eventually overcome, spiritual and psychological barriers to humility.
Humble Leadership is an insightful and helpful book. It does not provide easy answers. Instead it invites us into a transformative experience, a journey towards a deep and strong humility through an attitude of radical openness to God.