Curated Leadership for Today's World

All I Want for Christmas is Humility

Posted on 12 December 2013

c_s_-lewis-humility-is-not-thinking-less-of-yourself-but-thinking-of-yourself-less_I’ve been a huge advocate of acronyms since my time in the military. I came across one years ago that has been one of my favorites:  SLICC—self-licking ice cream cone; n. a process, department, institution, or other thing that offers few benefits and exists primarily to justify or perpetuate its own existence.

When I refer to someone as SLICC, it’s not a compliment although, true to form, that person or institution probably thinks that it is. SLICCs aren’t just found in the bureaucracy of the military, they exist everywhere! And the more downtrodden our sense of respect for hard work and humility, the more this trait takes root. The amount of self-aggrandizement throughout the media and everyday life is staggering. I feel like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers as I seek to find one truly authentic and humble soul.

When I was a little girl my older sister caught me looking at myself in the mirror and called me conceited. I was mortified and vowed to never spend an inordinate amount of time fixated upon myself. And perhaps this remembrance irritates me the most around Christmas time because self-absorption is the antithesis of the Lord’s arrival.

Christ was born in a manger, an actual feeding trough. He was gentle, he was approachable, he was worthy of all the entitlement and adoration in the universe, yet demanded none. Here’s how you can get your “Christ” on this holiday season and stop considering yourself God’s Christmas Gift to the Universe. That blessed event already took place in Bethlehem several millennia ago.

Stop Quoting Yourself: This includes taking pictures of yourself, otherwise known as selfies. These are a definite no-no in professional settings but equally weird in personal settings. If your LinkedIn profile pic is a selfie, take it down now. I find it strange when people put their own quotes on memes and then put their name on them and then put them on their Facebook page. I can understand if a third-party fan page does this, but for someone to do it on their own seems a bit braggadocious to me.

The Narcissus Syndrome: This egocentrism manifests itself in many forms, but beware of giving one of these birds a microphone unless you’ve got a hook handy and are prepared to use it. If it’s all about you, then just start a cult and hang out with your own special weirdos. Please don’t assume I’m one of them.  I was once at an event where someone was asked to give a two-minute presentation. When the time came, he delivered his assigned talk, and at then proceeded to speak for 15 minutes about his pet project—a topic that was not on the agenda. He finished and the meeting got back on track, but everyone in that room will remember his inappropriate display of self-importance.

My father, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, was a world-renowned author, speaker, and motivator. If anyone had reason to be a little big for their britches it was him. But his humility was a huge part of his attraction. He knew what Christ had done for him and it was woven through every word he spoke. One of my favorite lines of his is about men who would come up to him and proclaim, “I’m a self made man!” To which he’d retort, “Well, good for you! That relieves God of that responsibility!”

But perhaps the best illustration of humility comes in the form of this anecdote from his speech The Price of Leadership:

Remember the young minister writing his first sermon, spending his time in seminary preparing for that great day when he would stand before the congregation and lower the boom, telling them how to start living. He polished the sermon. He refined it. It was really getting better, week after week, month after month, and then the great day came. After two or three minutes, he realized he was in deep trouble. He began to feel around on the podium for a button he could push that would open the trap door and let him slip out of sight. But there wasn’t any push button. Within five minutes he realized he was whipped and that things were different in real life than they were in seminary. He said a hasty benediction and went down off the platform beaten, broken, and dejected. As he departed the podium, one of the old gray-headed warhorses slipped his arm over the young minister’s shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Son, if you’d have gone up like you came down, you could have come down like you went up.”

Here’s wishing everyone a gloriously blessed Christmas this year. May we all find our stockings and hearts so filled with humility that they overflow far into 2014!

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2 comments

  • traceyjones: February 20, 2016

    You are the role model for an anti SLICC:-) Yes, I figured we needed a break from “megalomaniac” and wanted something different! You could make an illustration of that one Mark! A big tongue slurping itself while it’s strutting around the town. Anywho, may you have a blessed Christmas. Another year of knowing Mark Armstrong means I am truly blessed xxxoxxxo

  • Mark Armstrong: February 20, 2016

    What a pleasure to read. The only drawback, of course, is that I’m gonna see big self-licking ice cream cones wherever I go now!! What a fantastic term!!— it sums up so much of modern society (which, of course, is the depressing part).

    We seem mired in an age of self-importance, and people’s access to social media has much to do with it (Lord, Lord, is there anything more tiresome than a “selfie”??). On the other hand, your posts give me hope!!

    Humility makes people open and accessible, and therein lies the path to friendship, laughter, and mutual respect. Onward, amigo!! : )

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