Zach Williams has a great song that says: “A little more like mercy, a little more like grace. A little more like kindness, goodness, love and faith. A little more like patience, a little more like peace. A little more like Jesus, a little less like me!” The truth of that statement should resonate in our hearts “a little (actually a lot) less like me.” Dale Burke, in How to Lead and Still Have a Life, said, “Serving others in humility does not lower one’s leadership potential, it actually increases it! Less ‘me’ in my leadership makes me moreof a leader.” All leaders have limited resources — energy, time, knowledge, and the list could go on and on.
Jesus willingly took the role of a servant and set the example for us as the supreme model for leadership. His focus was on seeing others as more important than Himself. The only one who had a right to say, “I’m better than you,” was unwilling to do that. Jesus declared that He had not come to serve, but to serve others. The greatest leader of all time was not on a power trip, but instead humbly served others and even washed the feet of His disciples. Solomon warned us that pride comes before the fall and if serving others is beneath you, then leading others is beyond you.
• A humble leader is focused on God. Henry Blackaby said, “An exalted view of God brings a clear view of sin and a realistic view of self.” When you are not focused on the Lord, you begin to “think more highly of yourself” than you should (Rom. 12:3). You may become satisfied with your personal holiness when you compare yourself to someone else (Luke 18:9-14), but when you compare yourself to the One who matters — a Holy God — we all fall woefully short. A humble leader remains close to the Lord in order to have a clearer perspective of who God is and who you are not.
• A humble leader is teachable and ready to be molded by God. It is not saying, “these are my strengths” and this is what “I” can do. Nor is it “these are my weaknesses” and this is what “I” cannot do. Henry Blackaby correctly pointed out that God “looks for those who will allow Him to shape them (Jer. 18:6) into the instruments He requires to do His divine work. Clay has no plans of its own, no aspiration of service, nor reluctance to perform its given task.” You are the clay in the Potter’s hands, and that means you are moldable, pliable and totally surrendered to His will and His ways. You are not irreplaceable because none of us are.
• A humble leader is friendly. You focus on serving others, and you always desire to make their day better with a smile and being more concerned about their well-being than you are your own. It has been well said that “Humility expresses itself through the practice of serving others.” That begins with how you view others, how you receive them and how you treat them. This is demonstrated in how you respect and value everyone because they are created in God’s image. Chenal Valley Baptist Church Pastor Allen Morton, in his message, said we should pray, “Lord, bring me someone today that I can serve.”
• A humble leader is appreciative. You value others and their contribution to the ministry. You know you could never make it alone, and it is your practice to say “thank you” often and to many. Several times, the apostle Paul told the believers that every time he thought of them, he gave thanks to God for them and he even thanked several by name. These two beautiful words — thank you — are not used often enough. Dale Burke states it well, “Prideful leaders tend to take way too much credit for their successes. Humble leaders are quick and eager to pass the praise and appreciation on to others in the organization or ministry.”
A humble leader is empowering. Humility means we do not have to be in control and every idea does not have to be ours. All too often, it sounds like the only reason you are asking for help is what you can get “from” people — what they can do for a particular ministry or what they can do for the church. What if you began explaining what it will do “for” them and “for” others? Instead of “We need you to attend the membership class,” try “This is a great opportunity for you to take the next steps in your faith journey with Jesus.” Following Christ does many things “for” people as they grow and become more like Him.
• A humble leader is realistic. You are not capable or able to do everything because God gave different people different gifts in the body. Humility causes you to realize how much you desperately need the Lord and how you also desperately need others to make this faith journey with you. If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, make the journey with others. Paul sent others to strengthen and encourage the believers. J Oswald Sanders said, “A natural leader by any measure, Paul became a great spiritual leader when his heart and mind were captured by Jesus Christ.”
• A humble leader is forgiving. You realize that everyone makes mistakes, especially you, and grace is practiced daily. Three great questions a humble leader loves to ask are: “How are you doing?” “Is there anything you need?” and “How can I help you to accomplish God’s purpose in this?” Those you work with know you are there to help them, support them and resource them any way you can. Be careful of projecting a top-down leadership perspective where your team is seen as “under” you. A humble leader sees their team as co-laborers who are working “alongside” them.