Monday, November 29, 2010

Christian humility

I have been delivering a series of messages on Wednesday night on Spiritual leadership. One of the most important aspects of a true spiritual leader is Christ-like humility. I trust that the comments that follow on humility will be a blessing to all of you. May the Lord use all of us in His service.

Humility in the life of a leader

Another spiritual quality that a leader needs is humility. Those who are involved in serving and leading in the Kingdom of God must be people filled with meekness and true humility. As far as the world is concerned humility is a quality that is neither appreciated nor sought after. Most people, who have not been touched by God’s grace, have little respect for humility in a leader.

A true spiritual leader is known, not by self-advertisement, but by self-abasement. Jesus prepared His disciples for leadership by giving them a lesson on the importance of humility, “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” John the Baptist also taught us that a spiritual leader has his focus on Christ and not on himself. John wrote, “He must increase but I must decrease.” John 3:30. The spiritual leader must point people to Christ and willingly attribute all the praise for his labors to Him and not draw attention to himself. Jeremiah the prophet said, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not…” Jeremiah 45:5. Someone once said, “Great men never think they are great and small men never think they are small.” One sign of pride in a leader is when he parades his achievements around so others will know what he has accomplished. A spiritual leader does not forget what Proverbs 27:2 teaches, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger and not thine own lips.”

How important is humility? James the apostle wrote, “But he giveth more grace, Wherefore he saith, GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD, BUT GIVETH GRACE UNTO THE HUMBLE.” James 4:6. The opposite of humility is pride. James tells us that God resists the proud but pours out His grace on those who are humble. This should illustrate how important humility is for the spiritual leader. John Stott from England said,

“At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” John Stott, “Pride, Humility & God,” Sovereign Grace Online, September/October 2000,

Solomon also reminds us of the dangers of pride, “Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.

Just what is humility? How can we define or explain humility? Here is a definition,

“Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. That’s the twin reality that all genuine humility is rooted in: God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Without an honest awareness of both these realities all self-evaluation will be skewed and we’ll fail to either understand or practice true humility.” C.J. Mahaney, Humility, (Multnomah Press, 2005), p. 22.

The most effective way for a spiritual leader to demonstrate humility is to devote himself to serving others for the glory of God. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, one of the early church fathers who was martyred for the faith, wrote this prayer prior to his martyrdom:

Almighty God, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble: send thy Holy Spirit and let that mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, that we may be meek and lowly of heart and never by our foolish pride provoke thine indignation… Teach us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think; to be modest in speech, just and merciful in action and benevolent to all. Let us prefer nothing to him, who preferred nothing to our salvation; but grant us that adhering inseparably to his kingdom and standing bravely by his cross, we may be found faithful to death, and at the end may be admitted into the joy of his most blessed presence. Amen.”