I spoke recently at a leadership forum on the topic of humility. My contribution at the forum was to give practical suggestions on how to live in humility. To say the least, it was the last topic I wanted to speak on. It’s OK to have others use you as an example but it is very uncomfortable to speak about yourself, especially under the heading of humility!
Although that was my initial reaction, I changed my mind after reading the only words Jesus himself used to describe himself found in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. If you are like me, you desire to be like Jesus. In fact Paul in Ephesians 5 indicates that we should be imitators of God! How does one get to the place where others refer to them as ‘gentle and humble at heart?
As my friend Boyd Bailey so eloquently puts it. “Humility is a demeanor dependent on the Lord. Gentleness and humility lubricate the relational machinery of a home or enterprise. Gentleness is aggression under the control of the Holy Spirit, and humility is courage that is first committed to Christ.”
Humility is not something that comes with a unique formula or process to attain it; it is awareness that God’s standards of conduct are different and that humility is a condition of the heart!
Phil 2:5 States that ‘our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ who was truly God but did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave when he became human like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God by being willing to die for us on a cross.’
The move towards a humble approach normally starts with awareness that we are not living in a way that brings the most glory & honor to God. The awareness that this is what Christ was like and men like Moses were known for (Numbers 12:3), an awareness that has come through a rebuke about our arrogance or prideful behavior. Awareness, over time, that those who genuinely serve others get better results and tend to have better, more meaningful and lasting relationships!
For me, all of these scenarios were true. I realized ever so slowly that the life God wanted for me was one of submission to him (He is God & I m not!) and one that honors others by serving them. Both required dying to myself and adopting a new attitude of daily life. No longer desiring to be served but to seek opportunities to serve.
As a final thought: ‘You will know when you are living and leading like a humble servant because people will treat you like one!
However, you will know that your attitude is like that of Christ, when being treated like a servant doesn’t bother you!’