If We Aren’t Humble, We Will Be Humbled

My mentor, Orrin Woodward, says leaders should value excellence over ego. I couldn’t agree more – in fact, I’m convinced that humility is an essential quality of a great leader.  I included a section on humility in my upcoming book, The Voyage of a Viking. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

God Bless, Tim Marks


“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke, 14:11, ESV


Defeat can be a blessing.  Many times it is.  Defeat forces us to face reality and admit our weaknesses.  If we are in the process of becoming a leader, defeat is used to prepare us for that responsibility.  It’s better to make a mistake leading a small group of people and improve yourself then, rather than NOT learn the lesson and make that same mistake when you are leading a large group of people.


Maybe we are harsh with people, as I was and sometimes still have to be on guard against. Maybe we are disorganized. Maybe we are moody, or unpleasant to be around. Maybe we are negative. Whatever we need to improve, defeat usually has a way of pointing out our “area of opportunity.” As Tommy Newbury says, “We often don’t realize it, but we frequently come face to face with the exact obstacle we need at just the right time to sharpen us where we need it the most.” Hopefully, we can swallow our pride, admit we need to grow in a certain area, and say, “I need to overcome this weakness.”


One area of character that defeat really helps us manage is arrogance and pride. If we aren’t humble, we will be humbled – count on it! I know when I started having fast success in building my leadership business I made the mistake of “reading my own press clippings.” I listened to those who were praising me and cheering for me, and I started to get a big puffed up chest, thinking I was “all that and a bag of chips.”  Well, God corrected me on that one pretty quickly by causing my business to slow down until I faced my arrogance. In fact, any time my pride has gotten out of hand, He sends me a gentle little reminder to knock me back into place.


I’m amazed at how we struggle with arrogance and pride, because a lot of the time we look pretty goofy to the people around us. It might do us some good to stop trying to look good all the time and just come down to earth. C.J. Mahaney, author of Humility: True Greatness, suggests one way to manage pride. He says, “First, play golf as much as possible.  Yep, golf. In my athletic experience, I don’t think there’s a more difficult or humbling sport. Rather, humiliating – because if you play at all, you know all about those shots that result in laughter from you partners and humiliation for you. No one escapes them.” I think we could all benefit by loosening up and allowing ourselves to look silly more often.

12 thoughts on “If We Aren’t Humble, We Will Be Humbled”

  1. Thank you for the reminder that we need to humble. You description of the relationship between your pride and the speed of your business hits home. I recently relearned that one myself! I appreciate your leadership and example.

  2. I have had to learn and relearn this lesson more times than I like to admit. I have had many relationships suffer because I have gotten a “big head.” Thank you for the reminder that humility is one of the biggest keys into developing yourself as a leader. I am looking forward to your book. God Bless!

  3. Really liked the posted Tim!

    As a fellow choleric, I can relate. As I am early in my community building efforts, reading through the list of faults in your post, I related with far too many of them. Hmmm, I wonder why my community is small? My current profession is in Arboriculture and in tree climbing there is the process of setting our lines in the tree at significant heights. This is done with a 12 once weight and a two millimeter line. Yes, it is very similar to golf. Just last week, I was working on a 95 foot elm. By chance there were two other competing companies in the same neighborhood within view of my tree. Ten years ago I had won the Wisconsin tree climbing championship two years in a row, and the current champion was two houses away on this day. I don’t have the space to tell the stories of what that demon possessed little throw ball and string did to me that day, but humility was the result. Your post today has truly mentored me and I am very grateful Tim. I am really excited for your book and for your entrance on the Leadership Guru list. I’ll be checking your blog often to do my part.

    Kevin Hamm

  4. Tim, whenever I begin a pity party I put one of your cd’s in. Clears up pretty quick. I admire your devotion to our God. Can’t wait for your book!

  5. Tim, you have accomplished so much thus far in your personal and professional life, and yet you don’t forget the journey for every warrior is fraught with setbacks and hurt. Along with all the PC, when it was too difficult to stand, you fell to your knees. Thank you for reminding me that no one makes it on their own motive power; we each need a source outisde ourselves of faith and energy to propel us past the finish line.

  6. Thank you, Tim, for addressing this topic. This is really a major virtue for a leader to develop for him to be influential. No one is exempt from the sin of pride and arrogance because we are all fallen beings. But with God’s grace He helps me to face my own weakness and surrender it to him so I can be freed from its clutches. I am blessed to be part of a community that strives to live in excellence God’s word. Thank you for being an example and showing the way. Looking forward to more teachings from your book!

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