It is easy to be humble when standing at the base of a mountain or the edge of the sea. However, when standing over another person it is a struggle to remain humble.
Humility is not the most desirable characteristic, especially for leaders. However, according to God humility is true greatness. Humility is viewing yourself in the light of God’s holiness and your limitedness.
Humility according to God starts with those in leadership. Elders and pastors are to be examples of humility. According to Peter, leaders are to show humility in three ways:
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:1-5
Humility is seen as you serve in plurality.
Shared leadership keeps a leaders pride in check. God designed leadership to be done together with other leaders who pass onto one another character. We see this best in the life of Christ and his disciples (v.1).
Humility is expressed best as leaders shepherd their flock.
The job of a leader is to care for those he leads by teaching and protecting (vs.2-3). Many leaders in the Bible start out as shepherds like Moses and David. Shepherding sheep is a humbling job, but is great preparation for shepherding people. Jesus himself was called the Chief Shepherd. He is ultimately your highest elder. All other elders work for him and do as he did.
Humility seek their reward is the eyes of God not men.
You may not see many humble leaders listed on Forbes 500. The reward for humble shepherding is not the praise of men, but the prize of the unfading crown of glory from God himself (v.4).
Humility in younger leaders is demonstrated in their submission to older leaders.
Those who are younger struggle the most to submit to authority. The younger you are the greater your struggle with pride, but often the older you are the more humble you become because you realize your limitations (v.5).
Peter knows the struggle of submitting to leadership and humbling leading. Early in his life he struggled with pride. He challenged and denied the authority of Christ. However, as he observed the sufferings and humility of Christ it left a mark on him that would forever change him. Christ would restore and call him to love sheep like he did. As we see from his letter, he became a tender shepherd leader.
Questions for Reflection:
- What is or isn’t humility? Why is humility an important character of a leader?
- What do you know about Peter’s own struggle with humility, especially earlier in his life? How had he grown in humility?
- What is the motivation for shepherding the flock? How can these motives become distorted? What are the common temptations of leaders?
- What is to be the response of the flock towards elders? How does also express humility? Toward whom is your humility ultimately pointed? What does it look like to submit to leaders over you?
- How do elders join in the suffering of Christ? When have you seen God’s grace to the humble or his opposition to the proud?
- What are the consequences of pride? What is the prize of humility?
- How can you clothe yourself in humility toward one another?