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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

02 Feb '13

Why humility is so important in leaders

Posted by T.J. Addington in humble leaders, humility
There are many things that make for a truly good leader but there is one thing that no good leader can do without - humility. Think of how many times humility is referenced in Proverbs.  One cannot be the kind of leader God wants without a great deal of humility.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).


Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life (Proverbs 22:4).


Life is not about me

It is easy for leaders to forget that. Leaders get attention, they often get credit and it is easy to slip into a mindset that life revolves around us. It doesn't even if we think it does. When we live in pride we focus on ourselves. When we live in humility we focus on God and others. There is no leader who has fallen who did not start to believe that life was about them - which is why they got into trouble. 

The ministry I steward is not mine

How big is your church. Tell me about your mission! How subtle it is but how easy it is to start to believe that what we lead is somehow ours. It isn't. It is God's and we are simply stewards on His behalf for His fruit in dependence on His Spirit. We ought to be proud of what God has done and does through the ministry we steward but we cannot allow pride to creep in to the place where we think it is our ministry. Humility reminds us that we steward a ministry or a team for a season and then we pass it on to the next one who will steward it well. 

The team I lead is not there to serve me
Humble leaders serve their team in order for the team to be as successful as it can be and its members as fruitful as they can be. Prideful leaders take their teams for granted and expect that the team is there to serve them. Not so! Jim Collins talks about level five leaders who serve their teams and live with great humility. He is right. It is New Testament leadership where leaders serve rather than are served. Only humility makes that possible.

My ideas are not the only ones that matter

Proud leaders talk a lot. Humble leaders listen a lot. There is no robust dialogue with leaders that think they have a corner on ideas or direction. Only humble leaders are willing to hear things that they don't like to hear, listen to differing points of view and be open to honest feedback. A sign of humility in leadership is the extent that honest, open, candid dialogue can be had - with the leader present and even to him or her. 

The moment I start to believe my own press it becomes about me. When I take credit for what the team has done or what God has done it is about me. As soon as it becomes about me it is no longer about Him. To the extent that I live in humility it is about Him and to the extent that I live in pride it is about me. And it is very easy to slip from humility to pride. It takes a significant effort to stay on the side of humility.