Humility is not typically a natural character setting for us humans. Yes, our basic approach to life is governed by personality types, our individual strength array, and the personal preferences we develop along the way. Many of us are quiet, thoughtful, and introverted and therefore are less intrusive in our mannerisms, talk, and interaction with others. Still, the basic trend line for us humans is egocentric, that is, geared to the preservation of self. Blowing our own horn, even in less obtrusive ways, is our natural habitat. For that reason humility is basically foreign to our species, even in spiritual matters. The unholy trinity of me, myself, and I is always lurking beneath the surface of just about everything we do.
The lessons of humility are a consistent theme of Scripture. In fact, humility is portrayed as the central component of God's amazing plan for personal strength. Pay attention to a few biblical references---
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the
humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
Psalm 25: 8-9, ESV
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2, ESV
The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 15: 33, ESV
One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
Proverbs 29: 23, ESV
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do
justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8, ESV
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never
be wise in your own sight.
Romans 12: 16, ESV
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2, ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant
Philippians 2: 3, ESV
As is the case in every biblical consideration, there are many other verses that provide instruction in the ways of humility. Perhaps it is time for believers to understand humility as our first and foremost character trait in fulfilling the mission Christ gave us. This is especially true for those of us entrusted with spiritual leadership.
Humility is certainly making it's mark in the world of secular leadership. An article by Karen Higgenbottom at Forbes.com certainly identifies humility as a significant character trait among corporate leaders today. You can read this article by clicking here. She quotes Dr. Robert Hogan, founder and president of Hogan Assessments---
"Substantial research shows that humility predicts effective leadership. Humility is
associated with minimizing status differences, listening to subordinates, soliciting input,
admitting mistakes and being willing to change course when a plan seems not to work.”
Suddenly a humble spirit gets more done in the workplace than the typical commander boss, corner office, praise hungry, antics that were cash in the bank in the old world. Leaders who can empathize with their employees, who deflect the cheers of success, and operate with a thoughtful reflection are the thing today. Google "humility in leadership" and this this new trend line in the corporate world.
While we should be letting this humble light shine in the darkness, the approach of many pastors, church staff, and congregational leaders is heavy handed ego rather than biblical humility. It is a strange fit for those of us who are supposed to be walking in the steps of Jesus (see 1 john 2:6). His life is the ultimate model of humility. Check these out---
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in
the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being
found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2: 5-8, ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many.
Mark 10: 45, ESV
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your
sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV
The question today: is biblical humility an aspect of God's amazing plan for personal strength? My answer to that is definitely "yes". Two Scriptures affirm this to me more than many others. They were God's gift to us when our son Brain was murdered on July 18, 2011, one from the pen of James, believed to be the brother of Jesus, and one from Simon Peter. They wrote---
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to
James 4:6, ESV
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the
proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty
hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1 Peter 5:5-6, ESV
Oh, the strength of his grace, given abundantly to the humble. It was the confession of the Apostle Paul, weakened by a thorn in the flesh---
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in
weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the
power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12: 9, ESV
He boasted in his weaknesses, the marks of a humble servant. But, the grace that gave him humility also gave him Christ's power.
God's Amazing Plan for Personal Strength.