Humility in Leadership

I’ve been in children’s ministry for a long time, but my very first children’s sermon was not the best experience. I was asked to deliver the children’s sermon at church one Sunday. I chose to tell the story of Noah’s ark but I wanted to tell it in a way that was different and interesting. I had this really strange mask that made me look like a mole or rodent with really big teeth. (I know, this story is not off to a great start.) So I decided to tell the story as if I was an animal on the boat. I sat on the front steps of the sanctuary as the children gathered around me. I put my mask on and talked in a funny voice and told the story. 

The blank stares I received from the children and the adults in the pews was awful. Nobody smiled at my animal mask. Nobody laughed at my funny voice. Nobody responded in any way. Rather than telling the story in a whimsical and fun way, it was just weird. What I thought was going to be a homerun performance, was a total dud. I finished up and exited the church feeling completely humiliated. 

While humiliation and humility aren’t quite the same thing, that moment did teach me about humility. I had anticipated getting pats on the back and “attaboys” and “job well done” and other words of praise. My motives were selfish and it didn’t pay off. 

Philippians 2:2-3 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.”

Paul speaks very plainly here. Selfish ambition and conceit have no part in the fellowship of believers. The church is not here to boost our egos. It is here to glorify Christ and serve others. 

Think of a chain of links. Each link must be firm and strong if the chain is to be any good. When we each look out for others and not only for ourselves, we are stronger. When one person acts selfishly or pridefully, the chain is weakened and eventually broken. 

We must be humble and selfless if we are to add any value to the body of Christ. For those of my readers that are children’s ministry leaders, humility is key in connecting to our young audience. We need to get down on their level. We cannot expect to make any impact for the next generation if we are not willing to put our comforts aside and meet the needs of our children. 

Mothers tend to be selfless people. They are constantly putting their children’s needs before their own. She is the last to sit at the dinner table, the last to finish her meal, the last to do anything she wants to do for herself. Mothers are leaders. And all leaders need to be like mothers. Selfless and humble. Willing to get in there and do the dirty work for the sake of all others. 

Christ came not to be served but to serve. He calls us to do the same. After he finished washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, He turns to them and says, “ Go and do likewise.” 

True leaders walk in humility. And we are all called to lead someone. Ministers lead their congregations, Superiors in the job market lead their subordinates. Parents lead their children. We must decide if we are going to lead the Christ called us to or to lead the way the world wants us to. Are we going to lead as servants or tyrants?

Our level of humility will help us decide.

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