Where Leaders Come to Think

Tolerance is Dead


I didn’t kill it – I just discovered a better way.

To be fair this statement requires a little explanation. You see I have found that tolerance as we know it steals the precise freedoms that tolerance is supposed to provide. Many times we find ourselves being tolerant for the wrong reasons. We are tolerant because we love someone. Many times we are tolerant because we want to be loved. Perhaps, if we are honest, most often we are tolerant because we fear the majority.

Fear of being judged a “judger.”

Our culture says we must be tolerant. The problem is that tolerance by its nature leaves us in state of being passionless, passive and lacking purpose.

Wikipedia defines it this way – “Tolerance or toleration is the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves, such as social, ethnic, sexual, or religious practices.”

I have passions. I own convictions. I believe. Therefore, I am, by definition, a non-tolerant leader.

I believe we need to increase our passion in life – not kill it.

I believe this is an imperative, if together; we are going to make a dent in the universe.

But wait, that doesn’t mean I have given up hope on everyone who does not think like me.

Instead, I am trading the concept of tolerance for humility.

Humility allows us to keep the freedoms to be our self. It teaches us to live for something bigger than “my” thoughts, “my” beliefs or “my” passions.

Humility allows me to have mine, and you to have yours.

Humility allows us to explore the space that passionate leadership offers.

Jon Dickson in his book Humilitas puts it this way.  “If humility is the noble choice to hold your power for the good of others before yourself, its relevance in the moral and religious sphere is revolutionary.  Humility applied to convictions does not mean believing things any less; it means treating those who hold contrary beliefs with respect and friendship.”

At times, Jesus wasn’t exceptionally tolerant. Sorry if that bumps you.

But he was humble. Jesus was humble all the time.

Humility is what Christ modeled to his followers. To be humble wasn’t a “doing” but a “being.” Its self acknowledgment of just how little we are in this universe.

To live with real humility means we can walk step in step with those around us who don’t quite measure up to our standards.

Wikipedia defines humility as such. “Humility (adjectival form: humble) is the quality of being modest, and respectful. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.”

Tolerance and leadership simply don’t mix. Leaders need to believe in something bigger than themselves if they are to lead a tribe of people willing to follow.

Jesus, put it this way:  “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

I believe that Christ was calling his leaders to passion. To care and believe in something bigger than what this world has to offer.

He was calling his church to a high level of humility.

Today, research shows that the best companies are led by truly humble leaders. Truly humble means that they own the kind of humility that drives them to forsake personal glory for team gain.

Tolerance is dead because humility killed it.   Which do you choose?

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  1. Eddy

    I Choose Humility!!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia09-20-2011

      Yes, you do my friend and live your life that way. Thanks!

  2. Wanda

    “Tolerance is dead because humility killed it.” HA! Makes me think of the advice my mom would always give me, “kill them with kindness.” Thanks Mark!

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia09-20-2011

      Wanda that is very cool. I am glad that a special memory could be stoked by my crazy rantings. I will “kill them with kindness” as well. Such wise words.

  3. Matt & Kris
    Matt & Kris09-20-2011

    Awesome thoughts, as always, Mark. Way to lead!

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