How can humility lead to success

I have been studying the role of humility in success and would like to share the lessons with you. To understand humility better, I decided to contrast the attitude with pride. I could not think about a better story than David and Goliath to see both these attitudes in action.

“David and Goliath” is a timeless story, and it is used in many ways to draw lessons for different contexts. David, the ‘underdog’ overcomes the ‘giant’ Goliath dramatically. It impacts the reader because you put yourself in David’s shoes and see yourself win against a challenge that is too big for you. You are left with the hope that you need to face life.

Photo by Astrid Schaffner on Unsplash

Let’s look at how David and Goliath demonstrate confidence, reveal their purpose, recognize the opportunity, and Approach Problem solving through the attitude of humility and pride and see how humility led David to success.

Demonstrating Confidence

Confidence is one of the keys to success. It gives you the push that you need to step out and take a chance. Try something new, out of your comfort zone, believing that you can do it. You are self-assured in your preparation, skills, and experience that you be certain of puts you in a unique position to overcome the challenge in front of you.

Goliath shows tremendous confidence. He stands up and lays a challenge in front of the armies of Israel. Goliath displays great poise in his abilities and his training that he is willing to stake his freedom. Did he have anyone specific person in mind that he wanted to challenge? Did he know anyone in Israel whose fame in battle had reached the Philistines? We don’t know, but Goliath says, “pick anyone.”

Goliath’s confidence is so high that he is willing to let the enemy choose his opponent. Should we trust in our ability to deliver a specific result? Absolutely. Should we demonstrate confidence by drawing only from our previous experience? When our focus is only on ourselves and our past we could follow the footsteps of Goliath’s by turning our self-confidence into arrogance.

Arrogance is the demonstration of an offensive attitude of superiority, says the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Goliath’s focus on himself has changed his confidence to arrogance so much so that in 1 Samuel 17: 10, Goliath says, “This day I defy the armies of Israel!”

David clearly makes the distinction in verse 45, “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

David knew he is ready to face this challenge and recognized the skills that he had learned from previous experiences that will be used here. David understands that this is a new challenge, one happening in different circumstances, one carrying the nation’s fate, but he is confident because he knows where his strength comes from.

In Psalm 121:2, we read the source of David’s help “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!”

When our source of help is our Lord, our confidence does not turn into arrogance. The arrogance led to the downfall of Goliath and a victory for David, the servant of the Lord.

Reveals the Purpose

We can understand the purpose of David from the words he speaks.

v.45 “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.”

v.46 “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands.”

v.47 “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s.

David’s purpose was to serve God. When he heard the philistine ridicule his children, David refused to listen to the arrogance of the Philistine. While the army of Israel, including the king, was shocked, terrified, and fled from him in great fear, David does not demonstrate similar feelings. When one tries to look inward for strength to face the challenges we face, our response will be like that of the army Israel that day.

Goliath’s purpose that day was to serve himself. For his glory, he put himself forward as the challenger, and for a while, he looked and behaved as an impossible adversary, that is until someone with a higher purpose came to the battlefield. A selfish ambition may serve one for a while, approach the challenge with God, and victory is yours no matter how big the giant in your life is.

When our purpose is to serve God, we can place our trust in His strength. The Lord saves, and the battle is His. What is the challenge facing you today? Are you afraid to face your enemy? Do you feel overwhelmed by the circumstances in your life? Face the giant like David. Choose today to serve God. Remember, the battle belongs to Him, and He is waiting for you to step out in faith and see what the Lord will do with you on His side.

Recognize opportunity

David and Goliath demonstrate the ability to recognize the opportunity when they saw one. Goliath knew his appearance brought a sense of fear in the eyes of his enemies, which he used to his advantage. Over time Goliath had added props to aid his appearance. The latest military equipment that he possessed is evidence of the brand that he was advertising.

It worked for Goliath. He added some colorful language to go with the appearance. On seeing and hearing Goliath, the army of Israel believed the story that Goliath was selling.

David was also keen on recognizing the opportunity. He was not afraid of the Philistine because he believed in God more than he believed in himself. David is eager to find out as much information as he can. In v.26, “David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?” David hears some information in verse 25 and confirms if that information is accurate and finds in verse 27 that it is true.

Eliab, the brother of David, is angry and he is quick to judge David. Eliab thinks that David wants to hear stories and is interested in just watching the battle. David completely ignores the accusation and turns to others, and confirms if the rewards attached to the opportunity are not inflated in any way.

David’s confidence and his interest in the opportunity reach King Saul, and he calls for David.

While in front of the king, David talks about his experience to make sure he will be allowed to go and face Goliath. David ensures that his confidence is not arrogance, nor is it some form of naïve posturing. He demonstrates his faith in God, and the king believes in David.

What opportunities do you see around you today? Are you ready to take on the prospects? Have you made sure that the rewards match the risk involved? Have you ensured that you have the required skills needed to face the challenge? Have you put your trust in God to ensure your success in this endeavor?

Approach to problem-solving

Goliath steps up to solve the problem. In verse 8, he says, “Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.”  He is more than willing to put himself on the line instead of his countrymen.

David does the same. In verse 32, we see David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” David wants to step up and use his skills to face the challenge set before the army of Israel. In my previous blog, I wrote about the 3 ways we usually respond to a problem, and I concluded that the “I will do the best I can” mindset is necessary to achieve success. You can read more about it here.

David is volunteering his skills to take on Goliath. He is not discounting himself, neither is he finding any excuse to stay away from the challenge. King Saul says that David is very young, and he lacks the experience required while his brother accuses him of being a spectator interested in the stories. David does not accept the conclusions that others have about him; he is determined to face this challenge.

The people around you may be quick to dismiss you and your dreams/plans. Are you believing their assessment and have started to limit your true potential? David’s action reveals what your next steps should be.

Goliath approached this problem with an arrogant attitude. In verse 43, He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” The arrogant attitude always looks to self. The narrative that Goliath is propagating refuses to take the opponent seriously, which leads to his downfall.

David, on the other hand, shows patience. He is not offended by his brother’s words. He chooses to ignore them and move forward with the plan. David listens to Saul’s advice and tries the armor to see if wearing them will be a good fit for him. David’s humility allowed him to seek the information that he needed, convince Saul to place the fate of Israel in his hands, and confidently step forward to face the challenge.

Pride allowed Goliath to dwell in his past accomplishments, exaggerate them and use them to predict the future. He was planning on taking full credit for the results. While David’s humility used his past experience to prepare for future situations, David has intended to serve all the while depending on God for his strength.

Humility played a significant role in what David did to face victory. Are you willing to put on this attitude in your life today? What challenges do you face today? What is your purpose in life? Where does your confidence come from? Step up and take advantage of the opportunity you see. God will do the rest.

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