Leading With Humility

February 18, 2016

Right now our Lenten message series at Nativity, called “Attitude Adjustment,” is all about the virtue of humility. Of course, the more you think you have it, the less you really do. Even blogging about it is a little awkward. I’ve heard it quoted that humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; humility is thinking of yourself less.

It’s a particularly challenging virtue for anyone in a leadership position, but for that reason all the more necessary. Humility and leadership are two words not often associated. Especially in churchworld, we need to change that. Here are five important points I’ve been trying to keep in mind as our team at Nativity moves together through our series.

Slow Down

One of the hardest things for a leader invested with responsibility is to slow down. Slowing down means letting go of some control and learning to trust others. At Nativity, one way we do this is by having regular staff retreat days where we get off-site to pray, cast vision, and just relax and get to know each other better. Consider going on a staff retreat- you would be amazed how much motivation and great ideas might come of it.


The more task oriented you are the more difficult it is. But just simply listening can change your whole perspective on an issue. It’s also important so as not to become out of touch with the real needs and issues in the pews or organization. That happened to me the first time I really listened to Rick Warren while attending his conference. It was painful, even a bit humiliating- but listening that day changed my whole approach to doing church.

Be a Leader Who Learns

Many leaders develop pride by thinking they were tasked with authority because they know the solution to every issue. Although leaders should be knowledgeable, a leader who never learns will never grow personally or professionally. Make time to learn on a daily basis- read books, blogs, talk to people inside and outside your field.

Deflect Praise

Humility means thinking of yourself less, especially when it comes to success. Learn to praise those around you first. Don’t put yourself down- false humility is just another form of pride or fishing for compliments. But lift others up. Notice how every post-game interview of an athlete who put up a great performance always deflects to the team. You know they were outstanding, but they always praise their teammates. All the more necessary for leaders in the Church. It’s always about winning together as the parish body and Church.

Say Thank You

For every ministry “win,” there is always someone to thank. St. Paul said, “Encourage one another and build each other up,” (1 Thess. 5:11). Don’t embarrass people or dwell on it, but don’t let that stop you from publicly and privately thanking volunteers who exhibit great dedication or creativity in their ministry. A thank you, especially from someone in leadership, means a lot and keeps spirits lifted.

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