Humility to me

This was the Facebook post that my wife Kelli made on Monday, May 14, 2018. To my surprise, nobody responded negatively.

“When Black people are told to be humble, it means we have to surrender our confidence and dignity. It is an age-old strategy that is akin to using Christianity as a tool to justify American slavery.

It’s what got Emmett Till murdered and our ancestors lynched – the notion that we would have the nerve to express our confidence and dignity.

There is a common thread between our explicitly tragic history and the calls we hear today to be humble: they are all based on acts of suppression that, cumulatively, amount to a culture of oppression. They all originate from a deficient and sometimes unconscious belief in a hierarchy of sorts, one in which we are all somehow supposed to “know our place.”

If I have been diligent in my craft and have experienced success as a result of it- I have earned the right to be confident. #LettinMyLightShine #ClaimingMyGreatness #NotHidingItUnderABushel #iSeeWhatYouTryinToDo

Kelli Stewart

There are so many definitions for the word “humble”. There are those who consider being humble a selective requirement. They believe certain people should be humble while others, including themselves, are exempt from it, as if they are the umpire, responsible for judging when a particular individual or the movement they represent is either “safe” or “out” (as in “unsafe”).

According to Rick Warren, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

I really like that definition.

As a child and even up until age 40, I defined humility as hiding my blessings and not taking credit for positive things that I’ve done so that I wouldn’t make others feel “unsafe”.

At age 40, I graduated from Leadership Atlanta’s 2015 cohort class. The mission of Leadership Atlanta is to build a better community for everyone in the Atlanta region through education about the key issues facing the region and inspiring members and others to take on and exercise real leadership committed to serving the common good.

Leadership Atlanta was a convicting experience that enabled me to get better connected with myself, which allowed me to collaborate with others to create change.

At age 40, I gave myself permission to embrace my blessings from God that allow me to bless others on earth. I also stopped the deflection of credit when I accomplished things. Ultimately, I realized that I serve as a conduit to receive blessings from God that I can then give to others.

For me, there are few things worse than an obscure Black man. As a child, I assumed that everything that was done right was done by a White man.

As children, we all form our sense of self-worth based on the circumstances and messages thrust upon us, but that doesn’t mean they are true. Our journey is one of navigating reality and overcoming untruths – of recognizing what is false in the world around us and what is true in ourselves.

Along that journey, there is balance and unity that comes with humility – a recognition that we may be much better than we thought we were as a child, but we are still imperfect individuals in an imperfect world.

As an imperfect man of God, I’m on assignment every day. We all have a purpose for our life and mine is to be significant by serving millions and bringing them into a relationship with Christ starting with my wife, Kelli, and our daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna.

Mackenna and Mackenzi Stewart

I’m 42 years of age and here’s a list of 42 things that I want to do in my future.

Ending racism in my lifetime is number 1 on my list.

Why is ending Racism #1? Because when I call on my own humility, what I want is about so much more than what I want. Ending racism is a legacy that will generate a positive impact that will flow powerfully through time and space, to future generations and to all people (not just black people). It will help us “know our place” relative to God rather than relative to each other.

This is not about me thinking less about myself, it is about me thinking of myself less.

I’m a devoted husband and father, a consequential leader, a coach, and a Best Selling author among many blessings. I have been diligent in my craft and have experienced success as a result of it- I have earned the right to be confident.

– How does Kelli’s Facebook post make you feel?
– How do you define humility?
– What emotions do you feel in the presence of a confident Black man?