By Bob Russell
God will bring people and experiences into your life that will keep you humble. Instead of resenting those people, welcome them, laugh about them—or, better still, listen to them. They may be just what you need to keep you from becoming arrogant and self-centered.
Stay close to Christ. The Scripture records that every time someone saw the Lord in His glory, their first reaction was fear and self-loathing. “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” said Simon Peter. “I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of people with unclean lips,” Isaiah cried.
The closer you are to Christ, the more aware you are of your own sinfulness and inadequacy. That’s why the apostle Paul wrote, “I am the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).
There’s a balance that’s needed here. Some go to the extreme and don’t take advantage of the leadership role God has given. When Joseph was promoted from the prison to the palace in Egypt, he accepted the perks that came with the position and used them to lead effectively. He wore Pharaoh’s signet ring, linen robe, and gold necklace. He rode in Pharaoh’s impressive chariot with its security personnel. He didn’t confuse humility with reluctance. He recognized that God had gifted him and equipped him to lead.
When Esther was selected as the queen, she didn’t refuse to reign or take advantage of her lofty position. She acknowledged that God had brought her into the kingdom “for such a time as this” and used her influence to save her people.
A general needs to wear additional stars. The orchestra director needs to be the only one with a baton. The President needs to be surrounded by Secret Service. There’s a place for proper dignity, authority symbols, and leadership perks. The High Priest in the Old Testament days was to wear distinctive clothing. The Bible does say we are to respect those who are over us in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:12). A local preacher needs to be esteemed and loved. The idea of leading from behind is mostly a myth.
Spiritual leaders are most effective when they feel comfortable in their own skin and yet lead with a servant’s heart. The great stage and film star Sir Laurence Olivier was once asked what it took to be a great actor. He responded, “Humility enough to prepare and confidence enough to perform.” That’s the balance that’s needed in ministry. Enough holy fear to remain dependent on God every day, yet enough confidence in our divine call that we remain strong and courageous no matter how challenging the assignment.
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5-7).
Excerpted from After 50 years of Ministry: 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same by Bob Russell