Leadership in the Image of God: Humility and Identity
Read Philippians 2:1-11
The main goal for godly leaders—and for Christians in general—is to reflect the life of Christ in their lives. And the character trait that best enables us to do this is humility.
After exhorting the Philippians to lay aside their personal interests and focus on the needs of others, Paul tells us how to follow the example of Christ (vv. 5-11). From this beautiful passage we learn three things about our Lord that model for us the essence of true humility:
First, Jesus didn’t selfishly cling to the outer expression of His divinity. Instead, He took the form of a servant. A humble leader doesn’t flaunt his or her position or power. Instead, he or she identifies with the weakest member of the team. Second, Jesus demonstrated humility through obedience to God the Father. A humble leader doesn’t impose his or her will on God, but submits to God’s commands. Third, Jesus waited for His Father to lift Him up. A humble leader doesn’t grab for power or position. He or she patiently waits for God to increase his or her influence. Jesus didn’t come as a king, but as a helpless infant (Luke 2). Although He was perfectly God and perfectly human at the same time (John 1:14), He lived His life as a humble laborer.
After He began His ministry, He demonstrated humble service to others in the miracles He performed, as well as in His instruction to His disciples. When the time came for Him to die, He submitted to His Father’s divine will (Mark 14:36). And now, seated in power at the right hand of God, He intercedes on our behalf (Acts 5:29-32).
As the perfect model for godly leadership, Jesus set the perfect example of humility. Ask God to help you follow Jesus’ example as you seek to demonstrate the kind of humility that will cause others to see Jesus in you.
Humility and Who God Is
Humility has fallen on hard times. Contrary to popular opinion, humility is not a matter of weakness or passivity; from a biblical point of view, it is disciplined strength and other centered power. In His earthly life, Christ Himself was the perfect exemplar of true humility. Read Matthew 11:28-30 for a glimpse at what humility really means.
Read Matthew 11:28-30
Unlike the Pharisees, Christ is gentle, and He has a humble heart. He offers rest for the weary souls of those who come to Him and learn from Him. Christ’s humility was evident in His perfect obedience to the authority and will of His Father. He learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8) and always sought to glorify the Father and not Himself.
Jesus summarized His mission statement in saying that He had come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to serve, and offer His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45). It is one thing to claim to be a servant, but it is another to be treated as one. Jesus Christ, the most powerful man ever to walk on the face of the earth, was also the most humble man who ever lived. His agenda was never to promote Himself, but to please His Father by loving and serving others.
Jesus’ incarnation was in itself a profound act of humility, let alone His death on a cross. Read Philippians 2:5-11 to see how His humiliation preceded His exaltation. Because He knew who He was, Jesus was secure enough to serve others (read John 13:3-5).
In what way does your understanding of your identity relate to the issue of humility in your life?
Humility and Who I Am
"My humility cries out for recognition!"
"I’m humble and proud of it!"
The problem with the virtue of humility is that as soon as we think we have attained it, we have lost it. How do we avoid this dilemma? Look at Numbers 12:3 for insight into this crucial biblical virtue.
Read Numbers 12:3
The high and lofty One who lives forever, whose name is holy says He lives in a high place, but also with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit (Isaiah 57:15; 66:2).
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Those who are proud have an inappropriate and inflated view of themselves. They attribute their accomplishments to their own efforts and fail to acknowledge that everything they are and have comes directly from God’s hand.
One way to summarize the Bible’s message is that it is God telling us, “I am God, and you are not.” The quality of humility flows out of a proper assessment of ourselves before God.
Moses was a powerful man, but he was also a humble man because he saw himself in the light of God and sought God’s honor and reputation, not his own. When people come to grips with their desperate need for the grace and mercy of God, they develop a teachable spirit, they seek wise counsel and they are willing to be under authority.
Humble yourselves and cast your anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:6- 7).
Ask God for the grace to make this passage a reality in your life. Finally, realizing that to be other-centered is to be Christlike, reflect for a moment on the words of Philippians 2:3-4.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Leadership
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