• Ephesians 2:10
    "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

Humility Wins Friends

July 1 2023

I love reading the Book of Proverbs. There is so much wisdom and practical teaching that if applied properly, we will live a blessed and prosperous life. Many catastrophes in our lives can be avoided if we listen to those treasures.

Proverbs 25:15 states, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded and a soft tongue breaks the bone. In other words, patience and a gentle or soft tongue can be unusually influential, doing far more than loss of temper and harsh words. The idea of a soft tongue breaking a hard bone is words spoken softly can do difficult things and resolve complex misunderstandings. It can persuade someone in power to look at the situation differently.

Humility is needed when you speak softly to someone. It opens the door for people to listen to what you have to say.

Let me give you an example of how this works. When I was much younger and worked as a senior leader in Corporate America, I had to be aggressive. I never attacked anyone verbally or was condescending, or disrespectful in my interactions with others, but I often spoke up on issues that were significant. I remember when I was in a meeting with the CFO, his team and other support groups, I made a comment that was taken out of context by him. He was very protective of his team, and he thought I had just unfairly criticized them. I want you to understand that this man was very powerful. In fact, he was third in the hierarchy of power. Everyone understood you never crossed him and if you did, your career was over. I was well respected in the organization, but no one was going to defend or rescue me. And what is sad about the situation is that I was not aware of what I had done. I was not being malicious in my comments. I did not do a good job of communicating my thoughts and hence the reason for the misunderstanding.

I was leaving work late one night and often he and I would see each other and speak cordially as we walked to our respective cars. That night in front of a couple of other executives, he referred to me as a “prick.” I did not understand the derogatory name he had assigned, but instantly I knew something was wrong.

A few days later, one of the people on his team came to me confidentially and conveyed this executive’s indictment against me. She took a chance to share his views of me and thought I should know he was out to get me. I was shocked to say the least, but appreciative of the favor I was shown.

I knew he arrived for work early in the morning, so I planned to be there the next morning when he got there. I went to his office and asked to speak with him, and he invited me in. I had determined I would drop my pride and humble myself even though I was innocent. I did not do it out of fear of what he could do to me, but I wanted to make matters right.

As I started talking about what had occurred, he stopped me after a few minutes and said he had misjudged me. He said I can tell just by the way you are communicating with me you had no ill intent. He apologized and told me how much respect he had for me, and he was going to drop the whole thing. We shook hands and I left.

He became one of my biggest supporters in the organization. He backed almost every initiative I presented until the day he retired from the company. It was my soft tongue and humility that broke his hard bone. I could have gone into his office upset and used a harsh tone, but that was not going to resolve the issue and probably would have sealed my fate.

I prayed about how to approach him just as Nehemiah did before approaching King Artaxerxes and requesting his release to go rebuild the Jerusalem walls. God opened the door for me, and I walked in with the confidence of knowing that it would turn out alright.

Pride comes before a fall. I would rather follow the path of humility any day than to lose out because of foolish pride. In the end, humility always wins and makes friends.

In addition to your normal Bible reading, read a Proverb a day and watch how your life is enriched. Amen.

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