Speaking the Truth, Without Boasting

Leaders enjoy success and many leaders are eager to boast about what they have accomplished! Boasting is talking with excessive pride and drawing attention to oneself. But Paul reminds us that love “does not boast” (1 Corinthians 13:4). And he challenges us to speak the “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). So, servant leaders are called to speak the truth without boasting.

In the last issue, we looked at a scenario in which another person was succeeding, and you were asked to respond. (The challenge was to speak truth without envy.) Now, let’s reflect on what you say when you are the one with great success!

Imagine that you have just completed a large project in your church, business or profession. You worked hard on the project for the last six months. Finally, it was accomplished, and the results were far beyond your expectations and acknowledged by many as outstanding. Your friend who has not heard about your success stops to talk with you and asks you, “How are things going with your work?” What will you say to your friend and how will you say it?

Servant leaders learn to speak truth in this situation without boasting.

Speaking the truth without boasting requires balance.

For many personalities, it is most natural to respond to your friend’s question with boasting. You might say, “Wow, this is a fantastic time of progress for me. I have been working so hard on this project and it has succeeded beyond what I imagined. Everyone is so impressed, and they have been sending me text messages of congratulations!” Since it sounds so good, you continue, “I expect that what I did will soon be announced in our organization’s monthly report!” Boasting usually leads to exaggerating the truth!

Other leaders may have a very low view of themselves or been taught to be humble. They may find it difficult to acknowledge success. You might respond to the question, “Well, nothing too great is happening, you know, the normal ups and downs of work!” In your attempt to avoid boasting, you also avoid truth!

Servant leaders learn a proper balance by speaking truthfully but without boasting.

Speaking the truth without boasting reveals maturity.

As leaders begin their journey, their personality impacts their ability to speak the truth without boasting. But as leaders mature on their journey, they allow God’s spirit to shape their responses. Those who are quick to boast recognize that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). Those who tend to minimize their own success learn from Jesus’ words, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

As leaders mature, they also learn to acknowledge that whatever they accomplish is a gift from Him and done for His glory. They learn to say with Isaiah, “LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us” (Isaiah 26:12).

Servant leaders demonstrate maturity as they speak truth without boasting.

Speaking the truth without boasting reflects Jesus.

Jesus made truth claims that were astonishing. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) in one of many examples. Jesus boldly spoke what was true even when others interpreted His claims as blasphemous. But He made these claims without a hint of boasting and gave the glory to His Father. “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:10).

Like Jesus, servant leaders learn to boldly speak the truth without boasting.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What is my natural tendency about my successes: to boast or to minimize the truth? What is the result in my leadership?   
  • When have I spoken with boasting? What was the result in my own life and in the life of the person to whom I spoke?  
  • Reflect on Paul’s boasting in 2 Corinthians 7:14. “I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well.” Was he boasting about himself? What can we learn from his example?
  • Can I think of another time when Jesus could have boasted but instead spoke the truth without boasting?  What can I learn from His example?

Copyright, Global Disciples 2019.