Is It Impossible to be Humble and Ambitious?

360802818_55f8353bfa_mLast week I gave a talk to several hundred students and parents at our annual excellence assembly.  It was a unique task- recognize those who were already awarded for their hard work and challenge everyone else to keep aiming for excellence.

I chose to zero in on what makes excellence truly possible: humility.  In two separate turns of events, I then happened to be reading the chapter on humility in my devotional book, By Way of Grace by Paula Huston and then stumbled on Michael Hyatt's post on humility based on the Catalyst conference in Atlanta.

There are two problems when we talk about humility.  First, few of us are drawn to it as an attractive virtue.  It's just not as cool as courage and doesn't seem as relevant as honesty.  Second, many of us feel drawn to be more in life and sometimes, frankly, humility can feel like a wet blanket over personal ambition.

Huston points out that it is "Only when we are humble that we safely follow out our natural urge towards excellence." This natural urge to be more and make more out of our lives is in this light, a good thing.  Even, you could say, a God-thing.

As long as we do not tap into vainglory or pride, we can honor the interior drive for excellence and be humble at the same time.  At the end of the day, they go hand in hand.

For myself, I want to be the best school president I can be.  Humility teaches me that this will take time and tons of hard work.

For my family, I want to be a devoted husband and a role model for my three children.  Humility teaches me that I have to work at this every day and that I may occasionally disappoint those that I love the most.

For my faith, I want to be holy and lead others closer to God.  Humility teaches me that I'm at one time both inspiring to others and capable of any sin.

Here's a quote from Luke 14:11 which I think sums up the call to both leadership and humility:  "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Photo by ledoo