The Importance of Humility in Leadership

“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.”[1]

If you lead a mentoring program, then you are a zealot. What else could motivate you to give up your life for young people who view life quite differently than you do? I was a zealot once and probably still am. The world needs Christian zealots. The world needs humble, Christian zealots, to be specific.

In 1991 I announced to our church that I was leaving my position as Youth Pastor to go to Romania as a missionary to this recently opened communist nation. Lilly opposed.[2] She stood up and said publicly that I “should not be abandoning our youth to go and help communists.” Many years later, upon returning from a decade’s worth of ministry in Romania, I had the privilege of pastoring Lilly again as her Sr. Pastor. Lilly is my friend. She and her husband, who by the way never had kids in my youth program, have been life-long supporters of our ministry.

Humility is important for many reasons. One is that longevity in ministry and relationships never happens when the leader is proud and offensive. While Moses was treated offensively and misunderstood multiple times by the Israelites, his humility kept his relationships intact and sustained his calling to lead them towards Canaan. Here are a couple of other reasons humility remains crucial in current day Christian leadership.

God loves humility and expects Christian mentoring programs to be led with humility just as His son led with humility. “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”[3] This text reminds us that we all have a mission. We can see that part of the verse clearly. There is, however, more to this verse than just a calling to mission. A clear translation would be, in the same way that the Father sent Jesus, He also sends us. In the way of the stable. In the way of rejection. In the way of the cross. In the way of the Humble Servant.

The Scriptures teach clearly that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.[4] Leader, it is never easy to hear others malign your efforts to better the lives of our youth or your zealous efforts to make a difference through mentoring. When this happens – and it will happen if you lead long enough – respond in humility as did our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Finally, as you lead your mentoring program, remember that your leadership provides an important role model for the youth of our nation. Regardless of your political persuasion, you probably recognize the trend in national leadership over the past few decades has moved away from humility and selflessness in favor of pride and selfish idealism. Many are disillusioned by this trend. The youth who are matched in your program, more than ever, need to see a different type of leadership model. They need to see Christ embodied not only in our words, but in our leadership and behavior as well. Christ accomplished the Father’s will through humble obedience. You can do the same. Christ, in humility, suffered rejection. You may suffer as well. Christ’s humility and love changed the world. My dear zealot, you will do the same!

-Ken Merrifield

[1] Numbers 12:3 – NASB

[2] Lilly is a pseudonym.

[3] John 20:19 – NASB

[4] 1 Peter 5:5 – NASB

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