Humility makes it easier to be a servant

Dave Newton explores whether Humility is an underrated characteristic for Christian leadership that is too often underrated.

Now Moses was humble – more humble than any other person on earth. Numbers 12:3.

The slight irony in the statement is that Moses is writing this himself. It reminds me of the man who was given a badge for his humility but had it taken off him the next week for wearing it.

Psychologists research suggests that most humans suffer from ‘Illusory Superiority’, whilst it sounds painful it simply means we over estimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative ones.

Luke 18 reports an account, where Jesus was asked a question by an important man. He asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ It is intriguing how Jesus responds to the question with another question: ‘Why do you call me good?’ He continues with a statement: ‘Only God is good.’

When it comes to getting an accurate view of ourselves, the reminder we get here from Jesus is an important one. How we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us can be two very different things. Paul in the book of Romans challenges us not to think of ourselves more highly than we should. An honest assessment of ourselves is essential if we are to make any real, lasting impact in our world.

It was Mandella who famously said: "You must learn to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself ... great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility."

One of the first benefits of humility is that it makes it easier to serve. It is difficult to serve well when you feeling you are constantly stooping. Alan Nelson, in his book 'Coached by Jesus', puts it eloquently when he says ‘Pride create arthritis in your joints so kneeling and bowing become more painful experiences’

Secondly, people of humility are more fun to be around. It is so much easier to relax around someone who isn’t trying to prove himself or herself and impress you with their latest accomplishments.

A proud person is easily offended but it’s far more difficult to offend someone who is humble. It was CS Lewis who originally expressed, "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."

Another benefit of humility is growth. A humble person is far more likely to have a teachable attitude. Vicky Zakrzewski, the Education Director of the Greater Good Science Centre at UC, Berkely, suggests "They see life as a school, recognizing that while none of us is perfect, we can, without negatively impacting our self-esteem, work on our limitations by being open to new ideas, advice, and criticism."

The word humility comes from the same route word as humus the natural fertilizer from leaves, twigs and plants. Perhaps humility is the fertilizer of the soul that helps develop our character and fruitfulness.

Jesus in his response to the man who asked the question took some time to resist the title that the man had given him. "Why do you call me good?" Jesus wasn’t suffering from a poor estimation of himself, or indeed denying that the statement was true but instead he deflects the statement to stop it sinking in and taking root. He makes the decision to focus the attention on God rather than himself.

I wonder if a question to ask ourselves as leaders in Elim is what are you intentionally doing to cultivate humility? Creating a willingness to serve, becoming more fun to be around, with a greater desire to learn.

Question: What are you intentionally doing to cultivate humility? Leave a comment below.

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