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Confident Humility

November 15, 2022

I love learning from leaders I respect and admire, and one of these leaders is Mike Linch, a good friend and the pastor of NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Mike has a helpful and engaging podcast called Linch with a Leader, and on it he interviews different individuals about spiritual leadership, or as he would say, “how to lead with your faith out in front.” 

He recently shared an interview with leadership coach Karyn Gordon where he talked with her about her new book, The Three Chairs. (I’m going to simplify and summarize, but I’d recommend diving in to learn more). Karyn argues that there are three different types of leaders, represented by the three chairs: insecure leaders, arrogant leaders, and confident leaders. You can probably guess what kind of leader you should strive to be, but what I found most fascinating about this concept are the similarities between insecure and arrogant leaders.

Though insecure leaders and arrogant leaders are on opposite ends of the spectrum, both struggle with self-absorption. As C.S. Lewis famously said,

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

An insecure leader is so focused on their own performance that they will act inferior to avoid letting themselves down. They will also play a self-deprecating monologue in their minds because they are obsessed with putting themselves down.

An arrogant leader is so worried about how they are seen by certain people that they will often put others down and put on an air of superiority around the people they want to impress. In reality, they mask their own insecurity with arrogance because they are so internally focused that their vanity blinds them from being an effective leader.

We most need leaders in that middle chair.  We need confident, humble leaders. These are leaders who think of others before themselves. They are concerned with lifting others up through encouragement and support. They are able to receive criticism well because they desire to improve and are more worried about being the best version of themselves for the good of others than for their own praise.

We need to be honest: at different points, most of us sit in all three of these chairs.

When we find ourselves on either end of this spectrum, how can we move toward the middle? The answer is simple, but it isn’t easy: Strive for confident humility. 

Look outward by counting others more significant than yourself and by diligently working toward the work set in front of you. These are the types of leaders worth following, and the types of leaders we should each strive to be.


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