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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Dear Colleagues,

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #4) 1

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Tension 4 : Humility and the Ego of success:

Here’s the conundrum : “How can a person who is so good at ‘winning’ not see himself as superior to others? Isn’t it hypocritical for a man who makes over a million dollars a year, spending the vast majority of his time on business matters that affects hundreds of thousands of lives, to claim that all of what he does is ‘nothing?’”2

“On the one hand, self-reliance, like power, is a plus in that it helps CEOs to set and accomplish their economic objectives, to be innovative, and to channel the commitment of others to a common purpose in the organization…Self-reliance can also tempt CEOs to be too confident of their own judgment. They can fail to consult others, or they can be reluctant to admit their own mistakes. In seeing themselves as separate from the crowd, self-reliant CEOs can also see themselves as being above it.” 3

Tom Jones, former CEO of Epsilon, stated, “Everything is built to reinforce the ego of the CEO. The wallet full of platinum cards, the ‘other’ entrance to the building. Everything implies you’re more important than everyone else. You get to believe it.4 It might prove useful for top executives to remind themselves that they are made in the image of God, but are not confuse themselves with being God. 5

When pride raises its ugly head, we would do well to consider the example of Jesus: “… You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich ” (2 Cor. 8:9). (See Isa. 53:2; Matt. 8:20; 20:28; Lk. 9:56; Phil. 2:5-8)

Other key Scriptures that drive home the importance of practicing humility in the face of success:

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else ” (Gal. 6:3, 4).

… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you “ (Rom. 12:3b). (See Deut 8:11-14, 18; 2 Chron. 26:1-16; Isa. 66:2; Matt. 20:16; I Cor. 1:26-30)

Business executive Jack Willome states, “The only safeguard for trusting any one of us to hold power is for that person to grant permission to be held accountable. To the extent that I avoid accountability, I’m going to get zapped, because I will inevitably abuse whatever power is given to me if left to my own devices.” 6 Chuck Swindoll tartly reminds us that we all need someone in our lives who loves us, but is not impressed with us. The inference is that such a person will care enough to confront us when pride is getting the upper hand.

CHALLENGE : God promises us, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word…I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 66:2b; 57:15b). Take a few minutes to ask God…and your spouse, if your life reflects the humility described in these passages. If the answer is “no,” carve out sometime soon to spend with God in soul searching and repentance. Why? Because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6).

This week may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we are drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982. 2ibid 164, 3ibid173, 4ibid175, 5ibid 165, 6ibid 174.

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