If you are a Christian leader, you serve at the pleasure of the King. Not to get ahead, not to be honored, not to be famous, not to have power, not to plaster your face and name on everything you do.* You are under the authority of the King, and you serve at His pleasure.
This is the essence of Jesus’ prayer, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
It’s also the understanding of the Roman officer who came to Jesus requesting healing for his servant in Matthew 8:8-9:
8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” – ESV
Humility in leadership helps us to avoid the foolish mistakes that arise from arrogance. It’s the attitude behind James 4:6 and many other verses of Scripture: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” If you are leading on behalf of Christ, you definitely don’t want Him to be against you as you go.
Christian Leaders must have humility if they are to truly be effective. They must understand that they are under authority and represent the King. Sometimes that means serving in a place of honor, as a paid, full time Pastor or Staff Member. Sometimes that means serving in a place that does not have the same visibility or recognition. Sometimes it means picking up and moving across the country.
Humility is not a word that means “weakness” or “lack of confidence” or “low self-esteem.” It is a word that conveys the idea that we understand that we are under the authority of One who is greater than us. We go at His pleasure; we serve at His pleasure; we do whatever He calls us to do. Our responsibility is to see His will done rather than our will done on earth as it is in heaven.
I had a Professor in Seminary who told us about his first, official, paid position in ministry. He had just graduated with a Master’s degree, and was excited to start serving on a Church staff. The Monday of his first week at the Church, he was given his first assignment: Clean up the vomit of a kid who had thrown up in the Church van the night before.
Welcome to ministry. If our King grabs a towel and tells us, “This is how to lead,” then we join Him and start washing feet. If a task is given to us by the King, no matter how menial or grandiose, it is an honorable thing for us to be doing. The honor is in the fact that we are doing something on behalf of and in the name of the One who is worthy of all honor.
Humility is a “Backpack Essential” for Christian Leaders. We are not the King. We serve at the pleasure of the King.
* (I’m not talking about your name and face on promotional materials or websites. I’m talking about an ongoing need for recognition.)