Tag Archive: humility

The Humble Brag Among Ministers

It happens over lunches. It happens via social media. It happens at conferences and definitely at denominational conventions. It’s often back-handed or passive aggressive, but bottom line: it’s bragging.

And its most popular form is the humble brag.

The Urban Dictionary defines humble brag as “When you, usually consciously, try to get away with bragging about yourself [or church] by couching it in a phony show of humility.”

Whether you’re talking about your personal accomplishments, or your church’s attendance figures or square footage, it’s annoying and potentially sinful.

Can you imagine the Apostles coming back together after being out in different groups baptizing and saying things like, “Well, Peter and I baptized 21 people today”? Then Judas and Matthew one-up them by saying, “Well, we baptized 35.”

Actually, I can imagine this happening. But I also believe that if it did and Jesus heard it, then Jesus called them on it.

Those in positions of larger influence are often even more susceptible to humble brags. If you’re in a larger church than those you’re in a conversation with, not everyone needs to know. If you’ve found success in whatever you, resist the urge to  utter humble brags. Simple, be humble.

Unless you’re answering a direct question, I can’t think of a reason to to announce the number of people in your congregation or any other measurement stick you may keep track of.

And even when asked a question, begin your response with sayings like:

• “God has allowed us to do some pretty cool things…”

• “On a typical weekend, we average (use a conservative #)…”

• “I don’t know what we had here last week, but there was this really cool God-thing that happened…”

You get the idea.

No matter the topic, your bragging is not of Christ. And doing it in the form of a humble brag doesn’t make it any less of a brag. Bragging often leads to cause the sin of jealousy to others. It can influence other ministers to pursue the things of this world, rather than God’s desires.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

– Apostle Paul, the Bible, Galatians 6:14

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The Art of Self-deprecation in Leadership

When you’re 5’7”, bald, wear glasses, failed Algebra twice and had your greatest athletic moments competing against invisible competitors in your own backyard, it is easy to self-deprecate. In fact, it’s intuitive.

Like most everyone, I have concern for my image. But when I have foregone my hopes of people seeing me as similar to my childhood heroes (Nick Barkley, The Big Valley, Paunch, CHiPs, and Maverick, Top Gun), I have successfully enabled people to connect with me quicker.

Someone who doesn’t hide their inadequacies – whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual – becomes more approachable to others. You can’t lead if people won’t approach you.

When your vocational position gives you authority over people, there is often an intimidation factor that comes with it (even if you’re 5’7”). Self-deprecation typically makes you less threatening. Your position gives you power; your personality should not.

I spoke once to a group about the idea of self-deprecation and praising its advantages, and I unintentionally made the comment that my pastor and I often take the opportunity to “self-defecate when together.” Awkward! See, I told you self-deprecation comes very naturally to me.

Learn to take yourself less seriously. Learn to not speak about your church’s size or your recent accomplishments.

Others valuing your leadership and strengths take time and it is rarely done with making comments about yourself and bragging. The appropriate amount of self-deprecation can go a long way in allowing people to connect with you, and enabling you to lead them as they learn your strengths, over time.

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