“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Jesus said that in Matthew 23:12. This truth is displayed throughout the book of 1 Samuel in the life of Saul. Saul was a young man sent on a mission to find his father’s cattle. While on that mission, he sought the man of God, Samuel, to help him find the missing cattle. When Saul found Samuel, Samuel invited Saul to eat with him in the high place and fellowship. Saul answered Samuel and said, “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21) This is a humble answer to a meal invite if I have ever seen one! Saul claimed himself to be the least of the least, but what resulted from Saul’s humility? He became the first king of Israel. He was the God ordained king of God’s people! That is a big deal! However, just a few chapters over we read Samuel questioned Saul, “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” (1 Samuel 15:17) This question was asked when Saul disobeyed God and kept the spoil of war and the king of the Amalekites.
We all know the story. Saul went from the great king of Israel to the enraged maniac that had his lineage ripped from the kingly throne. What was the difference? What changed in Saul that caused him to lose his position of leadership and influence? Pride. This was the ultimate cause of the fall of Saul and, in my opinion, pride is the ultimate cause of any person of leadership falling. Being in a position of leadership is a hard place to be in; everyone sees you, people praise you for the things you do well, people want to please you by the things they do. Quite honestly, position is an easy place to become proud.
Being on staff at a church full time or part time can be grounds for pride to rear its ugly head. Most people that go into ministry don’t go back to their home church, but they enter a church brand new and are instantly in leadership positions. People you don’t even know look at you as a spiritual leader and are looking for you to lead. At first it is easy to enter humbly, begging God on a regular basis for help because you recognize you have NO IDEA what you are doing. But, a few weeks and months go by and you get into the routine of things and you kind of have things figured out. You are getting all your responsibilities covered with ease and you have stopped begging God on a regular basis for help. And then it happens and when it happens you know it. You get ABASED! You get humbled, like a floating volleyball, SPIKED! This hurts and it is not fun! It can happen in numerous ways-the preaching of the Word of God, from your pastor, from a friend, from a failure, whatever it may be you know it and feel it!
I’ve been abased plenty of times, and if I were to guess, so have you. Humility is a staple of spiritual leadership. It is easy to enter spiritual leadership humbly, but the difficult part is staying humble. So the question is, how does someone stay humble? I do not have this figured out but I try to keep in mind, when I start to drift into my natural proud state of mind, that as a Christian we are servants. The word in the Bible used for servant is the same word for slave. Servants have no rights. servants’ opinions don’t matter; servants are slaves. As a servant you have no right to want your way. You have no right to plead your case. Whatever it may be that you want doesn’t matter because you are a servant. So whether you have been in ministry seven months or seventy years, humility is a necessity to being the leader God wants you to be. Don’t just start humble but finish with the same mind set acknowledging your need for God’s help in everything you do. Humility will cause you to recognize that you are a sinner saved by grace. Humility will cause you to recognize the point of your existence is to bring glory to God and not yourself. Have you lost the recognition of your need for the Lord’s help in serving Him? Did you start humbly but have drifted into a proud way of life? Have you started to serve for the praise of man? Are you serving to glorify the Lord or to be seen of man? Examine your motives for serving the Lord and ask Him to reveal any pride that may have crept into your heart or mind. A proud leader will eventually fall.