Leadership in the Kingdom of God is sometimes a paradoxical topic due to the fact that the ways of God’s Kingdom are often upside down from the ways of this world. From the worldly perspective, leadership is often understood as being the man or woman who has ultimate authority within your sphere of influence, demonstrated by having other people serving you and obeying your every word. It’s about power. It’s about pride. This, however, cannot be so for any leader serving in the Kingdom of God. The key difference lies in one thing … humility.
The famous English pastor, Charles Spurgeon said,
“Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.”
So what is humility? Let’s look at it from the biblical perspective. The English word humility comes from the Latin root word, humus, which means “earth” or “soil.” This is also where we get the word “human.” This, of course, should draw your mind to God’s creation of mankind in the book of Genesis. God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, and breathed life into him. Humility recognizes this fact, and allows us to find our proper worth in relation to God and our fellow man.
Submission and Servanthood
The first thing we must see is that humility means we do not raise ourselves up to the level of God – the ultimate display of pride. This was the exact sin that expelled Satan from heaven, and the idea that we could be like God was the lie that led to Adam and Eve to sin and eat the forbidden fruit. This drive to be our own gods – the very spirit of antichrist – has been a dangerous habit of mankind in everything from the humanist attitude displayed in building the Tower of Babel to the playing-God experiments of Nazi Germany.
Once we recognize our place in submission to God, then we come to see that humility also means we lower ourselves down in relation to others, becoming servants to all. We do this as we choose to obey the Bible and “esteem everyone as better than ourselves,” treating them with dignity, honor, and respect.
We are made of dust.
Abraham gives one of the best illustrations of humility in the Bible as he talks with God face-to-face, negotiating the terms for the preservation of Sodom and Gomorrah. You can read the whole story in Genesis 18:16-33, but the portion relevant to our topic is found in verses 17-19, “The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
Abraham was chosen by God to lead nations and, historically, this came to pass. It was from also from Abraham’s lineage that the promised Savior would one day be born. Knowing that Abraham was an important man in the course of human events, God asked for Abraham’s input on His decision-making. This is high respect indeed. Yet, what makes this all the more interesting is how Abraham responded with the utmost humility in verse 27: “Abraham answered and said, ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes…’”
Abraham recognized that his leadership was not about himself. It did not give him any special rights or privileges of which he could or would take advantage. It was about service to God first and foremost, and in his pleading for God to spare the sinful cities. We also see that it was about serving his fellow man as well. This is the heart of true leadership. If we do not have a right view of our importance and properly understand our position as servants of God and man, we can never fulfill the instruction of the Apostle Paul:
“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).
Creating a humility mindset.
As we continue our journey in Kingdom-minded leadership, begin the process of developing a humility mindset in your daily life. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Ask yourself honestly: “Do I serve those around me or do I expect them to serve me?”
- Ask those closest to you how they view you: as humble or more prideful. If they will answer honestly, this can help reveal any lies you may believe about yourself without realizing it.
- How do currently demonstrate servanthood? How can you do better?
- Write down some action steps you can take this week to empower someone you lead to be better, even if it costs you something.
- Write down some ideas you can implement to make humility a core value in your life.
© 2015 A. Scott Ingram
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