The White Knight

“The opposite of pride is not humility as being humble often contains a measure of pride. The opposite of pride is actually gratitude”!   Mary New

Mary shared this to a group of friends recently.  I think there is a lot of truth in this statement.  We often think being humble or meek is admirable, yet there is often a thread of pride that is woven in to our humility.  Pride is incredibly insidious.  It is often completely unrecognizable to us.  We think we are acting under the motivation of doing a good thing- but is the good thing REALLY our motivation?

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The servant heart is especially prone to this.  You may feel like the “white knight” coming in for the rescue when you serve others- however…. 

Do you ever consider what would happen if you did nothing?  Would they really perish?  Maybe it would actually do them some good to remain in a state of want.   

Do you they really need what you have to offer or are you simply enabling and feeding your ego?

Here are a couple of checks to see if the white knight drug is mixed in:

Measure the Sacrifice:  Are you putting aside things that are truly important to you in order to serve?  Are you neglecting your spouse, you family or friends to accomplish this “good thing”?  Be objective about this.  You may need to get advice from a friend on this as you may not be able to see it.  Your family, spouse, and close friends should come first, right?  If you are choosing to serve in front of these, you are likely receiving a good strong dose.

The End Game:  Where are you going with this?  What is your ultimate goal?  Before you make the investment (even properly measured as discussed above), you need to consider what the final outcome looks like.  This may seem elementary, yet the servant heart will look past this important step and charge into situations and really muck it up.  Why would you do this?  Again, you are likely taking another hit from the pride pipe.

Check for Fanfare:  Are you flying under the radar or are you acting in a very noticeable way.  If you truly want to serve you will do it without notice.  The best gift is an anonymous gift.  If you need your name on it, you are likely looking to get something back.  Another puff on the pipe.

Is Good Enough:  If you are taking things to the extreme, then it’s likely that you are doing it for yourself.  Do what you can with what you have and move on.  Yes, we should do things with excellence, yet, there is a limit to this.  If it has to be picture perfect you are probably looking for another fix.

It’s My Religion:  Playing the God card can really cloud your thinking.  Often a good work in a religious setting can be a great disguise for a personal motivation based on pride.  History is full of crazy acts that did little to honor God.  So who do you think got the glory?   

Check Out:  Are you able to leave project?  There is always a time to end it.  Are you able to do it?  It’s OK to fail or move on.  It’s very rare that leaving will cause catastrophic damage.  We can actually fool ourselves into thinking that they will die and be helpless without us.  Crazy isn’t it?  This is almost always not the case.  They will find others to help them.  You are not the only person in the entire world.  If you are convinced that only you can do it, it’s likely another surge in the veins.

I am not absent of these tendencies.  I am a perfectionist and I have a servant’s heart so this is as much a manifesto to me.  However, I am learning to recognize when pride begins to appear.  Pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing- in measure.  We should be proud of our accomplishments.  The key is recognition and staying objective. 

What is my actual motivating factor? 

Why am I doing this? 

These are important questions to ask you.  Don’t get frozen in analysis but go into situations with your eyes wide open.  Like you tell your kids- Just say no to the white knight!

What do you think?  Am I off base on this?  Am I just being heartless?  Click on comments and tell me what you think!   

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Addicted: The Power Surge

 John steps up on the stage like he has done a hundred times before.  He watches as the eyes of those seated pan along as he moves towards the podium.  He thinks back to the past when this moment was terrifying and he laughs to himself.  This time- no nervous stomach or sweaty palms. He is over it.

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He begins to speak.  He is gifted in really grabbing the audience.  They are completely engaged and listening intently on every word.  John watches as he “sets the hook”.  Then he starts to feel it.  At first it is barely noticeable yet as he continues to receive positive feedback- it begins to surge in him.  He thinks to himself, wow I am really on the mark this morning.  They are really loving this stuff.  He pans and sees the smiles and head nods.   I am really on it today!  The surge increases. 

After finishing up, he is swarmed with the audience showering him with accolades.  They tell him that this was simply the best they have every seen.  They tell him that he is completely on the mark.  The surge is now so strong that he feels like he is floating.  He can’t wipe the smile off of his face.  He’s hooked. 

John is in the grasp of something stronger than any drug.  Power, pride and approval are an insidious trio.  They can fool the best of leaders and control their very lives.  You can fool yourself into thinking truly insane conclusions.  Here are five lies of the power addict:

  1. They really need me!  Almost always a big lie.  They will be fine without you.  Yes- you are the leader and yes- you are leading, but there is always someone else that can take your place.  We are all replaceable.  There is likely someone right now waiting to replace you!
  2. There is no one that can do it better than I can!  Another lie.  Even if you have special skills and are just amazingly good at what you do, there is always someone else that can either do what you do or learn how to do it.  Your skills are not irreplaceable.
  3. They want me to be tough because they are weak and need a tough leader!  Wrong again.  They want someone to lead that is caring and understands what is needed.  They do not want a tyrant or rule with an iron fist.  There is never any excuse for abuse or excessive heavy handedness.
  4. I know what is best therefore I do not need advice!  Way wrong again.  We all need to receive counsel and there is none better than those that are actually performing the work.  Leaders can loose touch with the day to day activities and challenges.  Always best to ask questions before you make decisions.
  5. I do not need to follow the rules.  The rules are for everyone else!  This is probably the most dangerous lie.  This is the one that often brings down a leader.  As a leader, we need to set the example by following the rules.  By breaking or taking advantage of the rules by using your position you are discounting the importance of the rules and goals.  You are sending the message that you are above the rules.  There is no way around this.  A great leader will always follow the rules and put in extra effort towards reaching the goals of the group.

The gifted leader can sense the surge and fight off the effects.  I say “fight off” because it is not easy.   I have a friend who was a pastor and he called it the strongest drug on the planet.  We must stay grounded.  We must lead with humility.  Focus on serving your group and providing them with authenticity, guidance and your experience.  That is what they need.  Fight the surge!  You can do it!

Do you know a leader gifted in remaining humble and authentic?  Click on “Comment” below and tell us about them!