July 17

Written by Bill Grandi on July 17th, 2023

As leaders, and in my case a pastor/Christian leader, there are what I will call “fine line” moments. One of those “fine line” moments is the fine line between confidence and bragging or arrogance.

It is one thing to be sure of yourself; it is another to be arrogant.

It is one thing to be confident of your ability; it is another to come off as a “you-can’t-do-it-as-well-as-I-can.”

It is one thing to know your subject; it is another to come off as a know-it-all.

Fine lines. As leaders we face them every day. In an effort to not come off as incompetent, we overplay our hand and often find ourselves in no-man’s land. We are unable to fulfill what we said we would do.

I wonder if that is how the Apostle Paul felt as he wrote 2 Corinthians 11 & 12. In chapter 11 he says, “If I must boast, i will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (v.30). And then in chapter 12 he tells about the visit he had (using third person) that could have puffed him up, but instead a thorn in the flesh reminded him to stay down-to-earth. He learned God’s grace was sufficient. He learned he had nothing to really brag about, even though he had a special event in his life. His fine line between bragging and confidence and humility was widened by the thorn he prayed 3 times to have removed.

My guess? God knew Paul had a tendency to brag a little. He got defensive several times in his writings. Maybe he thought a little too much of himself at times. The thorn kept him humble. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10).

One of the marks of a true leader is humility, the marker/fine line between acceptance and “I can hardly stomach being around you.”


6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Humility is a sure sign of a servant/leader, Bill. God doesn’t want us to downplay our abilities so much as to use them for His glory. We need to always remember that if we’re tempted to toot our own horns.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Yours is a good comment on several ends Martha. First, humility is a sure sign. Two, God doesn’t want us to downplay our abilities. Sometimes that comes a false humility but it also takes away the glory from God (as you say). Three, Proverbs is clear about letting someone talk about us and not for us to toot our own horn.

  2. gail says:

    Also a good leader has to be convincing in that role so that the leadership is strong enough to get followers. I understand the fine line approach to doing that. The thorn in Paul’s side has never been revealed as to exactly what it was, it could be physical pain, or someone or something that painfully hurts him on a continuous basis. Paul was such a great leader because I think, he could see things from all sides, since at one time he was the persecutor, victim, loved, hated, and the fact that he was also super smart. The thorn kept him humble, I am not sure why he had to endure that as well as all the beatings, and jail time but God’s grace was sufficient, and God allowed it so I will not second guess why. Paul’s teachings are some of my favorites in the Bible.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Good points Gail. I’ll add one to your speculation. Some (and I tend to be one of them) seem to think that Paul’s thorn may have been his own guilt for all the Christians he had killed while in his ignorance. It has credibility but who knows? Your point is what matters: God’s grace is sufficient.

  3. Cheryl says:

    You are so right, Pastor Bill. I have said for years that humility is one of the most important attributes of a leader. I wrote an article once for a Christian publication called, “The Things that Keep Us Humble.” God has a way of allowing things to happen in our lives that will keep us on our knees or keep us asking someone’s forgiveness, etc. He knows how to keep an honest soul humble. I appreciate you and your writings so much.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thanks Cheryl. Unfortunately, God has had the use the hard way to teach me the importance of humility. It was one thing to talk about it, another to actually live it. I don’t know if a person can actually say “I am humble” but I would like to say that 🙂 but I still have so far to go. And thank you for your kind words.