When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I [Jesus] am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
The American pastor, Charles Swindoll, writes that “two dangers lurk in the shadow of [Christian] leadership.” One is the reluctance of leaders to become virtually unknown and overlooked in the accomplishment of the objective. The second is the negligence of leaders who fail to recognize others who deserve much of the credit. The fool-proof antidote for this disease in Christian leadership is humility.
Someone once asked evangelist D.L. Moody about humility: “are you saying that the humble person doesn’t think much of himself?” Moody retorted, “No, he doesn’t think of himself at all.” Isn’t that the catch? True humility is unconscious of itself. As one writer put it, “humility is the ‘eye’ which sees everything but itself.”
Humility gives tensile strength to leadership. “Exhibit A” in support of this conclusion is the life of Jesus Christ who “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself of His privileges (making himself of no reputation). . .He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8. Christ told his disciples to turn away from the pompous attitudes of the oriental despots “who lorded it over” those they led, and instead take on the lowly bearing of a servant. Matthew 20:25-27. Rather than the scepter and the sword, Jesus taught his followers to use the wash basin, towel and the cross.
As in ancient days, so today humility is least admired in political and business circles, says Christian missionary leader, J. Oswald Sanders. “But no bother,” he writes, “the spiritual leader will choose the hidden path of sacrificial service and approval of the Lord over the flamboyant self-advertising of the world.”
Jesus Christ gave life, vitality and glory to the word “humility.” He did not take offense or seek the destruction of His enemies. He turned the other cheek to those who hit Him. Yet, in Him, humility is not masked cowardice, it is high courage. He took a lower place than He deserved, keeping quiet about his own merits in deference to His Father in Heaven. He bore our existence, pains, slights, insults and false accusations for the sake of His higher and most benevolent purposes. To the leaders of His day, he demonstrated that lowliness of mind should dominate the Christian leader’s consciousness when he or she contemplates God’s holy majesty and merciful love in contrast to his or her own helplessness apart from the grace of God. Thus, when referred to as a “good” teacher by the rich young ruler, Jesus was not taken in by the flattery but humbly replied: “Why do you call Me good? No One is good but One, that is God.” Matthew 19:16-17.
So too the hallmark of John the Baptist’s spiritual leadership was neither his burning eloquence nor his blistering denunciations of the evils of his day, but his humility: “[Jesus] must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30.
Likewise, St. Paul’s humility grew with each passing year. Early in his ministry he acknowledged: “I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle.” 1 Corinthians 15:9. Later, he volunteered: “I am less than the least of all God’s people.” Ephesians 3:8. Finally, at the end of his life, he spoke only of Christ’s mercies and his own diminished sense of place: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15.
So in our Christian leadership, in the words of William Law (1688-1761), may we “let every day be a day of humility; condescend[ing] to all the weaknesses and infirmities of [our] fellow creatures, cover[ing] their frailties, loving their excellencies, encouraging their virtues, relieving their wants, rejoicing in their prosperities, caring for their distresses, receiving their friendship, overlooking their unkindness, forgiving their malice, being a servant of servants, condescending to the lowest offices of the lowest of mankind.”
Samuel B. Casey
– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.