CHAPTER 11: A LEADER IS GROWING IN HUMILITY
I once read of a boy who was awarded a medal for being the most humble in class. A day later, he was spotted still wearing his badge! As somebody once observed, when you thought you have humility, you have just lost it.
All Christian leaders struggle with the grace of humility. This struggle highlights another difference between a Christian leader and secular leaders. Humility is not always a desired goal of the latter, although there are undoubtedly exceptions to this. In contrast, humility is indispensable to the ministry leader. This requirement follows from our dependence on God alone for success, as I discussed in the previous chapter. If success comes ultimately not from our abilities and wisdom but from God, then we have nothing to crow about.
Our culture ingrains people from childhood with the idea that they have the power to do what they want in life. While there is nothing wrong with encouraging the young to follow their dreams, our society is overdoing it to the point that people tend to forget that God is the One who determines the outcome of all things.
This worldly thinking is opposite that of the Scriptures. One of the greatest leaders who ever lived, the apostle Paul, said this of himself: “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Just like Paul, every Christian is always conscious that he is an unworthy recipient of God’s goodness. That is why he is saved by grace alone.
The Bible is clear about the dangers of pride. The wise man of old wrote that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Countless leaders had imploded when their heads began to swell. Perhaps they had tasted success, and people around them began whispering how great they were. Pretty soon, they believed the hype, and they attributed their success to their brilliance. They then spoke and acted like they were exceptional people. Soon they started belittling others and ignoring the counsel of faithful colleagues. In the end, they stumbled over fatal mistakes that doom their leadership and even their spiritual lives.
One of the greatest rulers who ever lived was King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. His empire extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. One day while surveying his great city on the rooftop of his palace, he said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Even before the words left his mouth, the Lord humbled him. He became mentally deranged and acted like a cow, eating grass in the field until he acknowledged the kingship of Yahweh.
Earlier, I mentioned that a leader must be ready to serve. A humble spirit is what underlies such readiness to do menial tasks for the sake of the kingdom of God. A Christian leader’s logos proclaims our total dependence on the mercy of God.
How can you as a leader, develop humility? The first step is to always remember that you are a sinner saved by God’s unmerited love through the work of the Lord Jesus. We are sinners destined to hell if God did not intervene to rescue us. As Paul noted, “it (salvation) is not of works so no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9). If you are always near the cross of Jesus, you will remain humble.
Second, surround yourself with a few people who can tell you straight in the face if your feet are leaving the ground. Such a person can be your spouse or selected church members. In my case, I have been blessed to have a wife, Haydee, who can call my attention whenever she detects the risings of pride in my heart. I have lost the number of times Haydee has warned me whenever pride rears its destructive head in my life.
Third, seek God’s enabling grace in this area. We need to learn from our Lord what it means to be meek and lowly in heart. Pray for His enabling grace as you resist pride in your life and desire to grow in lowliness that befits your logos.
1. In what areas of your life are you prone to pride?
2. What are the concrete ways by which you can grow in humility?