I appeal to your spiritual leaders. I make this appeal as a spiritual leader who also witnessed Christ’s sufferings and will share in the glory that will be revealed. Be shepherds over the flock God has entrusted to you. Watch over it as God does: Don’t do this because you have to, but because you want to. Don’t do it out of greed, but out of a desire to serve. Don’t be rulers over the people entrusted to you but be examples for the flock to follow. Then, when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Young people, in a similar way, place yourselves under the authority of spiritual leaders.
Furthermore, all of you must serve each other with humility because God opposes the arrogant but favors the humble. Be humbled by God’s power so that when the right time comes he will honor you.
Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you. Keep your mind clear and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering. God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while. Power belongs to him forever. Amen. (God’s Word Translation)
The real mettle of a person, especially a leader, is not seen in their very visible public service. Rather, solid spiritual leadership is forged in the invisible places, in the daily mundane tasks which no one ever sees.
It is in our most unguarded times that we really demonstrate who we are. This is the sacred space where humility is learned and developed. Therefore, to know a genuinely humble leader, one must follow that person in the common course of daily life.
Leaders without such a foundation of daily and consistent faithfulness will eventually crack. Ministry gradually becomes more duty than delight. Service to others is eventually measured by church attendance, monetary offerings, and public image. The soul shrinks over a long stretch of time, almost imperceptibly.
In a slow drift, faith fades, and anxiety fills the emptiness; glory grows dim, and greed grows destructively. Safety and security are ensconced as primary values to mitigate the nagging sense of worry. The original adventure of confident faith, conviction of purpose, and compassionate ministry becomes a bygone era.
Thus, it is most necessary to return to the queen of all virtues, the ideal Christian ethic for all followers of Christ: humility.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6-7). With humility, our eyes are filled with spiritual sight, seeing and honoring the larger realities of the universe. Without humility, there is blindness, an inability to recognize the need for God’s grace.
The sinister approach of sinful pride is revealed in the wrongheaded thought, “I’m fine. I can do it on my own. I don’t need you, thank you very much.”
So, how’s that been working for you lately? Are you frustrated, worried, despondent?
Humility opens to us the wide vistas of God’s love and mercy. It is neither weakness nor a cenobite self-abnegation into denying my personhood. Instead, a humble spirit:
- Renews hope. Spiritually and emotionally healthy leaders make for spiritually and emotionally healthy congregations. Humility discerns that all Christian ministry rests with the sufficiency of Christ, not me, thus kindling a future hope in realities bigger than me.
- Relieves anxiety. Humility knows and rests in the hands of a good and merciful God, rather than a perceived need to “look out for number one.”
- Resists the devil. A robust faith always has a strong foundation of humility, helping us see that Satan has nothing we want.
- Remains steady. Humility is willing and privileged to share in the sufferings of Christ, and so, can persevere through both bad circumstances and boredom.
As individuals, we all need to gain and maintain a humble spirit. Humility really is the virtue to which everyone must aspire. It delivers what we need the most: To rest secure in the merciful arms of God.
In this old fallen world, every family, neighborhood, organization, institution, corporation, and government is in desperate need of humility. We’ve already made quite enough mess of things with our human pride.
Within the church, and inside of every religious community, it is most necessary to reinforce all leadership appointments and staffing with humility. No amount of human intelligence, skill, and hard work can make up for a lack of humility.
God is sovereign and in control. So, the sooner we sync our lives with this truth, the better off we will be.
Sovereign God, you cause people and nations to rise and to fall. I place my complete trust and devotion in you. With all the humility I can muster, I bow to you and submit to your gracious work in my life and in the life of the world.
Shoo all sinful pride far from me, create in me a pure and humble heart, and let me share in your sufferings so that I might share in your glory, through Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit are one God, now and forever. Amen.