THE WHOLEHEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 4: Holiness of Character
Humble, yet Confident
In this fourth pillar – holiness of character – I want to cover the mindset of the fruit of the Spirit. I use the word “mindset” because I will be using the words and the language that God gave me for the kind of character that He wants to develop, but I think they all embrace the fruit of the Spirit.
So, the first one is humility. Humility is a huge character goal – a huge character piece that we want to be able to develop in Jesus.
Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
so that He may exalt you at the proper time. (1 Peter 5:6)
What is humility?
Humility is not about thinking less of yourself,
but about thinking about yourself less often. (Rick Warren)
Humility is a correct perspective of who you are and where your success comes from. When we think about humility, the thing we have to caution against is pride. Pride is taking credit for what God has done through you and for you, or for what others have done. Pride is thinking of yourself first and feeling entitled.
Humility is realizing what God has done and what other people have done. It’s realizing your need for God and others. Humility is thinking of others and of God more than you think of yourself. Humility is considering others better than yourself. Humility is thinking about other people – recognizing and being grateful for their contributions and building them up. Humility is being teachable and willing to receive from others.
In humility value others above yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
How did Jesus display humility?
We need to understand that humility is a key ingredient, a key characteristic of Christ Himself. Notice how Jesus was humble, and yet confident. Not arrogant, not prideful, but He was humble and yet confident. He emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), and yet the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He taught with real authority (Matthew 7:28-29).
That’s huge. He was a man of humility; He was a servant leader. I remember, even as a young girl, one of the things that the enemy has tried to assault me with is the fear of pride. Pride is what kicked Satan out of heaven, so who wants to have that? No! We want to be humble; we want to be humble like Jesus was humble. We want to be utterly dependent and guided by the Father. We want to have servant hearts.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
What does false humility do?
When I speak of the humility of Jesus, I always add in that He was confident. He knew who He was, He knew His authority. Oftentimes, when people think of humility, they go into shame, they go into worthlessness, or they go into what we call ‘false humility.” False humility is not being confident in yourself, and in the gifts of God that He’s put inside you. False humility is failing to own within you the value of what He says you are.
Instead, what often gets taught in the church is false humility, which is insecurity or worthlessness. “Oh no, no, I’m not good enough. Let me suffer.” And then we don’t shine, we don’t become the light of the world that we need to become, so humility is huge! It’s a huge character trait that we want to grow.
Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. (Colossians 2:18-19)
How is humility tested?
Genuine humility versus false humility is tested in pride; it is tested not just as an attitude but as an issue of the heart. False humility is attention seeking and affirmation seeking. A prideful person often directs most conversations toward themselves. They tend to be takers more than givers. They struggle with jealousy when good things happen to other people.
1 Peter 5:5 says we are to “clothe ourselves with humility” – we have to actually put it on. It’s going to take effort and energy for you to produce humility. The end of that verse says, “God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” So, we want God for us, not against us!
What is a sign of humility?
So, just as a nugget, one major sign of humility is that we are willing to ask for help. Humility is being willing to stay teachable and learn from other people. Whole-hearted leaders aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know something, and they welcome others showing or teaching them. Having the humility to do this lets people know you are authentic, and that’s the kind of leader people like to follow.
How have you grown in humility?
Think about the timeline of your life. How have you grown in humility? Pride comes before a fall, and sometimes we fall on our faces and get humiliated because we arrogantly think we know it all. If that has happened to you, ideally it led to an attitude adjustment – making you willing to submit yourself to the Lord – to be humble and let Him teach you – and making you willing to receive counsel from others.
So, we don’t want to have to go through setbacks because of pride. We want to willingly humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God. Take some time now to reflect on how humility has helped you develop into a leader, and whether pride or false humility has created unwanted developments. Where do you still need to grow in humility, and where do pride and false humility need to be rooted out?
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
The humble will increase their joy in the LORD. (Isaiah 29:19)
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