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Thoughts from Beth - on Humility

Updated: Aug 28, 2018

Our ED and founder, Beth McLean Wiest, often has wonderful and insightful thoughts to share with our HtH participants every month. We think her thoughts are worth sharing with you too!

Imagine a compass. What are its functions? A compass tells you where you are; it orients you. It gives direction. It gives course correction; it helps redirect you when you are lost, or prevents you getting lost in the first place.

Have you ever considered how you make decisions and what motivates your actions? How do you get back on track when you feel derailed? What guides you and functions like a compass for your life?


What is a value?

  • · “The accepted principles or standards of an individual or a group.” (iMac dictionary)

  • · A standard that explains the “why” behind actions.

  • · A tool that will help evaluate integrity (if actions are in alignment with what is declared to be important.)

A few years ago, HtH began the process of clarifying our Core Values.

A core value is a belief that is central to who we are, and should not only determine but also be the essence of how we behave. If core values are accurate, they should answer the “why” behind every decision and action.

“Our research shows that values make a difference in how people behave inside organizations and how they feel about themselves, their colleagues, and their leaders. We know that people expect their leaders to stand for something; that they expect them to have the courage of their convictions; and that credibility is the foundation of leadership. The first step to credibility as a leader is clarifying personal values.” Kouzes & Posner, Encouraging the Heart, p. 50.

In HtH we have identified six Core Values: Humility, Compassion, Courage, Commitment, Effort, Growth.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Phil 2: 3-8 NIV)

Did you know that before Jesus, great leaders were not admired for their humility? Humility comes from the root word ‘humus’, which means ‘of the earth’. It suggests getting into a lower position, close to the ground. Before Jesus, leaders were admired for their strength, while humility was seen as weakness. But John Dickson, author of a book called Humilitas, points out that the example of one man, Jesus, changed history. For the first time, humility was associated with greatness.

There’s a quote on a sign outside a business near Centre Street Church that reads “The tough thing about humility is that you can’t brag about it.”

We can’t say we are a “humble” organization. Whether or not we are humble is up to others to judge. We can, however, say we value humility and describe what that means to us and how we strive to practice it.

In HtH, we have a culture of learning. We spend time in each rehearsal seeking to “expand our worldview” about something – through a book, through a current event, through lyrics to a song, through Scripture, through discussions with people of differing perspectives.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • · Do I believe I can learn something from everyone I meet?

  • · Do I know everything there is to know about anything?

  • · Am I willing to take risks and make mistakes?

It takes humility to have a lifelong desire to learn.

In HtH, we seek to serve. Service is an attitude before it is an action. It is an attitude of generosity that begins with looking at what we have to offer – our abilities, our time, and our resources. It is an attitude of willingness- to be present and available (time), to do what needs to be done to the best of our abilities, and to ask, “What do we have to share?” (resources). It is asking: “What do I have in my hand? And what am I going to do with what I have been given?” Can I cook? Then I should serve with food. Can I organize? Then I should offer my administrative abilities. Can I sing? Then I should use my voice for a purpose other than my own fame and glory. It takes humility to recognize that everything we have comes from God.

When we travel, we go on “Learning and Serving” trips. The intention behind this name is that we go with an attitude of building relationships and seeking to learn from our hosts. We offer what we can, when we can, where we can, in any way we can. It takes humility to serve, expecting nothing in return. And it takes humility to see dignity in every person, their ability to solve their problems and to resist the temptation to be the hero coming to the rescue.

Ultimately, humility is following Christ’s example of serving others. It is resisting the temptations to be powerful, spectacular and relevant (Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus)

Thou shalt know him when he comes, Not by any din of drums, Nor his manners, nor his airs, Nor by anything he wears. Thou shalt know him when he comes, Not by crown or by gown, But his coming known shall be, By the holy harmony which his coming makes in thee. Thou shalt know him when he comes. (song lyrics from Sirett, Thou Shalt Know Him)

Humility is the key attribute I look for when I interview a prospective participant. I look for a willingness of that individual to be vulnerable and share with me part of his/her story. In HtH, we recognize that every person has a story – a story with a past that has shaped us, a story that is being written in our present and a story we can use to help shape the future. There’s mess in all of it.... The parts of our experience of being wounded and wounding others, of needing healing and forgiveness, of a deep need for acceptance, belonging and accountability. It takes humility to admit you don’t have it all together.

“Humility is the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others.” (Wikipedia)

When you lower yourself to the ground, you often get messy. Humility is also messy. In HtH, we’re ok with mess. We expect mess. None of us is exempt from messy parts of our lives, none of us is “better than” or “worse than” anyone else. We’re all made in God’s image and we’re all in need of the forgiveness Jesus offers. We’re all in need of more humility in our lives.


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