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Leading with Humility

Leadership is complex and messy and necessary for growth, cohesion, and excellence in an organization.

It’s no different in Christian organizations.

You could spend much of your life studying leadership (and many people do)—learning what makes a good leader good, how different leadership principles apply in different situations, what qualities are necessary for leadership. And spending time studying leadership is valuable in your journey to becoming an excellent leader who clearly reflects the image of God.

But if spending most of your life studying leadership is overwhelming to you—if you need a starting place—start with humility.

“That’s what Jesus modeled for us, and I think that it’s something that embodies all of the other things we talk about in leadership—integrity, authenticity, accessibility, loving people,” Bob Pritchett, CEO of Faithlife said.

As Christian communicators and leaders, if we want our leadership to be Christ-like, it must begin with humility. This idea seems countercultural—counterproductive even. Culture says that in order to be a strong leader, we must be assertive and dominating. But when we look at Jesus’ ministry, we see that Jesus led with humility. His humility did not mean that he was weak or lacked confidence, but it meant that he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). It meant that he ate with sinners (Mark 2:13-17). Ultimately, Jesus humbled himself by “taking on the likeness of humanity” and “becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

What is humility?

Humility is considering others as more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3). It’s thinking of yourself and your needs less often than you think of others and their needs. Humility acknowledges your own value as an image bearer of God while also recognizing that your neighbor has that exact same value—no matter how twisted, broken, or evil you may think that person is. Humility is giving up your own desires so that you can honor your neighbor and recognize their value and worth.

But humility isn’t just about how we treat other people. We must also embody humility in our relationship with God—recognizing that God is God and we are not. He is the one seated on the throne—not us. In humility, we submit to God, allowing him to determine our steps (Proverbs 16:9) and reign over the earth (Psalm 47:8).

Lead with humility

As human beings, it is our responsibility to bear the image of God, reflecting his glory in all the earth. As a Christian leader, it is your responsibility to live and lead in a way that winsomely invites others to live lives of worship that glorify God. This kind of leadership must begin with humility, rather than pride.

“If we can follow Christ in modeling humility, I think that makes us better leaders in any organization,” Pritchett said.

Whether you lead a Christian organization or are a Christian leader in a secular organization, humility is foundational for effective leadership.

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